Clark Fork spikers strive for success in 2018 season

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Clark Fork would like to continue to climb the proverbial “ladder of success” with its high school volleyball program, and third-year head coach Toni Labbe would be glad to make that happen.

The Mountain Cats took the No. 1 seed into their District 13C Tournament, and finished second in the tourney. However, Clark Fork lost its first two matches at the Western Divisional, falling to Twin Bridges and Arlee, and failed to qualify for the state tournament.

Clark Fork opens the 2018 season this Saturday at the Drummond Tournament. There will be pool play in the morning, and bracket competition later in the day.

The Mountain Cats lost Kenzie Mueller and Montanna Baughman to graduation, and this year’s squad has three seniors.

They do have just enough healthy players to go 6-on-6 in practice, starting the season with 14 young ladies.

Clark Fork’s offense revolves around returning all-state senior setter Madison Mask. “She has good hands and good court awareness in seeing what’s going on,” Labbe said. “She makes her selection based on how the play is developing. She’s one of the best setters in our district, and one of my better defensive players.”

Speaking of defense, Labbe has yet to decide on who will be the libero, or defensive specialist. Margaret Parkin has played the position in the past.

The Mountain Cats don’t have much height, but some strong hitters. They include 5-foot-7 junior Emma Baughman. “She jumps really well. She’s quick and explosive,” Labbe said. Five-foot-6 senior Kathryn Parkin might play the right side at the net, opposite Mask. “She’s a good blocker with good hands,” the coach said.

The other starters are yet to be determined, according to Labbe.

“No one has really stepped forward,” the coach said.

However, 5-6 sophomore Bailey Milender and 5-10 senior Kristina Solinger have shown skills at the net.

A Clark Fork strength this season should be passing. “Our serve receive is really good,” Labbe said.

She is pleased how the Mountain Cats have been coached at the lower levels. “We don’t spend a ton of time on fundamentals,” Labbe said.

This is the third year that Superior and Alberton have combined their volleyball programs to form the Clark Fork co-op.

Clark Fork has a very busy week going into the Labor Day weekend. The Mountain Cats play Tuesday, Aug. 28 at Wallace, Idaho, and at Victor, Idaho, on Thursday the 30th. They host Valley Christian on Saturday, Sept. 1. The JV match starts at 4 p.m., with the varsity match to follow around 5:30 p.m.

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