Glacier Spikers Rising to the State’s Elite

By Beacon Staff

In all sports at every level, coaches preach the importance of developing a winning attitude. The first step is, not surprisingly, winning. But once the victories begin, it’s up to the athletes to harness that success into an overall mentality – not simply a good streak. At Glacier High School, the girls volleyball team believes it’s doing just that.

Glacier High School senior Lindsea Vaudt warms up her serving during volleyball practice.

After going 3-10 in conference play last year, the Lady Wolfpack find themselves in the middle of the playoff hunt this season with a 4-4 conference mark, to go along with a 5-7 overall record. Senior hitter Emilee Hashley said the team is beginning to develop the winning mentality necessary to hang tough with the top teams in the state. That bodes well for the Wolfpack as they enter the final leg of the regular season.

They are currently ranked No. 4 in Western AA. The top seed gets a bye to the state tourney, while the next three highest-ranked teams host a playoff game for the chance to move on to state.

“Right now we’re at the corner,” Hashley said. “We’re at this spot where we can take this huge jump.”

The old adage that sports are 80 percent mental isn’t a cliché for Hashley, or for fellow seniors Lindsea Vaudt and Kayla Smart. It’s an unmistakable reality. The girls say they can play with anyone in the state – including Billings Senior, the three-time defending state champions – if they have the mindset that every match is theirs to win. The team’s widespread talent supports that belief. Earlier this season, Glacier gave Billings Senior as tough of a test as the undefeated champs have faced all season.

Senior Emilee Hashley connects with the ball during volleyball practice at Glacier High School.

Much of the team’s roster is the same as last year, but the Wolfpack now have enough experience and sense of unity to carry them to the playoffs.

“I see a big change,” Vaudt said. “Now we’re able to step up when we need to.”

Glacier entered a game against Helena High on Oct. 11 with a 5-5 (4-2) record and a No. 3 conference ranking. The Wolfpack lost to Helena, however, and then lost again three days later to Missoula Sentinel, ranked No. 2 in Western AA. The losses dropped Glacier from third to fourth place in the conference standings, but Hashley said a positive, even season-changing, addition to the team emerged from the Sentinel match: freshman hitter Lexy Boschee.

Playing her first varsity game after being called up from J.V., Boschee tallied an impressive 11 kills against Sentinel. Not only does Boschee add to Glacier’s formidable presence at the net, she also provides a well-timed boost as the end of the regular season nears. To see a freshman step up against the Spartans and their all-state hitter Jennifer Keddy was inspiring, Hashley said.

Glacier High School volleyball coach Christy Harkins, left, explains the next contest during a “competition” practice.

“She proved that anyone can do it – she’s a stud,” Hashley said of Boschee. “I think she’s a big impact on our team. She’s quiet, but she motivates you.”

Vaudt, Smart and Hashley have hovered around the top five or top 10 in the state in various categories this year. Hashley is among the state leaders in serving aces and, at 6 feet, is always a force at the net. Vaudt is in the top 10 in the state in assists, while Smart, an all-state libero, is ranked No. 1 this year in digs.

The three senior leaders understand their roles. Smart, the team’s captain said, “I think I’m the energizer – I get really excited.” Vaudt and Hashley are clearly vocal leaders on the court as well. Smart said Hashley delivers motivational speeches off, and occasionally on, the court. Vaudt, a setter, has to constantly communicate with teammates to make sure they’re appropriately set up for her passes.

Team captain Kayla Smart, center, jumps to connect with the ball during volleyball practice at Glacier High School.

Perhaps most importantly, the three seniors thoroughly understand each other. They have “known each other forever” and played basketball and volleyball together throughout high school. They made the school switch and endured a difficult transition season together. Now they want to make a state run together. But if they make it, they won’t be content with that.

“We don’t just want to be in the tournament and say, ‘Yay, we’re here,’” Hashley said. “We want to do something while we’re there. We want to win.”