BILLINGS — Four points, over the course of the 25 needed to win a volleyball set, might not seem like a big deal.
But the Billings West Golden Bears know it is. Those four points — actually, 3.88 to be exact — will be missing from their lineup the rest of the season now that sophomore outside hitter Kourtney Grossman might need her second surgery in eight months.
The second-ranked Bears played their second full match without Grossman Thursday, and they defeated Billings Senior 25-18, 25-16, 22-25, 25-8 at the West gym.
Grossman re-injured her left knee last week that first required surgery in February, and her combination of 3.88 kills, blocks and aces per set will be tough to replicate.
“It is rough when you lose a player like that because she’s such a good player, she has such a strong energy,” West coach Monica Smith said. “She works so hard, so definitely not having that on the floor is definitely hard.”
One saving grace for the Bears, if you can call it that, is that they learned to play without Grossman during their summer season while she recuperated from her first surgery. And they still have plenty of talent to go around.
“We just have to make sure that we’re spreading out our hits a lot,” said Sydney Pierce, who averages a fourth-best in AA 4.73 points per set. “Kourtney can hit around a block like no other, and so we have to make sure that if we see the block cheating to the outside now we have to send it to the right or the middle. We just have to make sure we’re moving our sets around a little more now than we did before.”
Pierce, a 6-foot-3 middle blocker, had her share. She had 18 kills and four blocks, while Kaitlin Grossman led the Bears with 14 digs and seven aces. Setter Addie Allen had 40 assists and Sidney Streiff had a couple long serving runs to help West improve to 11-1 overall and 6-1 in the Eastern AA.
Senior mixed in flashes of great play with stretches of watching West dominate. The Broncs trailed 22-9 at one point in the second set before closing within 22-16 on a strong serving run by Piper Jette. Senior trailed 18-11 in the third set before Kara Pospisil served the Broncs into a 20-18 lead before their eventual win.
There just weren’t enough of those moments for Senior, which couldn’t ride the momentum of that third-set victory and quickly fell behind 9-0 to start the fourth.
“I have an athletic group of kids,” Senior coach Karen Switzer said. “It’s not physical, it’s mental and just experience. West is also a very athletic team. The level of your defense has to pick up an extra notch and we just weren’t able to do that tonight.”
Pospisil had 15 kills to lead Senior (7-5, 3-4). Mya Pospisil had 13 digs, Rylee Kogolshak had 27 assists, Jette led with three aces and Maddie Swanson had three blocks.
Senior fans notwithstanding, the Bears sent a good-sized crowd, there on the team’s military, police and firefighter appreciation night, home happy.
“It was awesome to have such big crowds on both sides,” Smith said. “It was just such a great atmosphere tonight, and we’re excited about how much (money) we raised to give to the VFW, police and fire departments. It was really awesome to have the community support.”