PREP VOLLEYBALL: Lakers ready to make noise in the section tournament

Independent file photo Lakeview’s Stephanie Pickthorn serves the ball during a Sept. 12 match against Canby. The Lakers will open the section tournament against Lac qui Parle Valley today.

COTTONWOOD – The 2017 season was one with ups and downs for the Lakeview Lakers. The Lakers opened the season with three straight wins. They followed that up with three straight losses. At one point the Lakers were 9-5, before they lost six straight matches to fall to 9-11 overall. The Lakers finished the regular season by winning three of their final five matches and ended the season with a 13-14 record.

“The regular season went pretty well for us,” Lakeview coach Hailey Osland said. “We were pretty up and down. We competed hard against teams that we knew we could handle. That was fun to see that. We showed improvements from last year. We stayed competitive in tough matches. It was nice to see the work they put in pay off.”

The Lakers will open up the section tournament tonight in Cottonwood against Lac qui Parle Valley. The Lakers defeated LQPV in straight sets during the first month of the regular season. Osland said the Lakers need to do a good job of defending LQPV’s outside hitters if they are going to advance to the second round.

“We just have to play like we know how to play,” she said. “We have to defend their outside hitters. LQPV has some good outside hitters. They gave us a tough go around when we played. When we have fun we play well. It would be exciting to make it to the second round. We lost out right away last year.”

Stephanie Pickthorn is the team’s leader in kills. Osland said that Pickthorn does a good job of leading by example.

“She’s been strong all season,” Osland said. “She started with a few games with 13 or 14 games. That’s what she ended the season with last year. I was happy to see her start off the year strong. She bring a positive vibe to our team. She lifts everybody up when she’s on the court. She’s also a selfless player. When she’s not playing well in the back row she knows she needs to come out and take a breath. When the team needs her to step up she does.”

While Pickthorn leads the team offensively, Osland said it’s a team effort on the defensive side.

“Our strength has been our defense,” Osland said. “I think we do a good job of digging the ball out. Once we get the defense down all the other aspects come together.”