It was senior night in the Lions’ Den last Tuesday (Oct. 19), celebrating the careers of six Mountain Lion netters as they were winding up their 2021 schedule against the Okanogan Bulldogs. A final home match is scheduled for Thursday, (Oct. 28) versus Tonasket. Junior varsity starts at 5 p.m. and varsity gets underway at 6:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs swept the Mountain Lions in three sets, but that seemed anticlimactic after the ceremony honoring seniors Caitlyn Cooley, Hazel Culpsmith, Elanna Doran, Jadyn Mitchell, Joslyn Rispone and Shae Taylor. The outgoing seniors commented that the volleyball experience has been transformational for them. Through their written comments on the traditional Senior Night questionnaire, they described the family atmosphere at Liberty Bell and the relationships they have established while in the program.
“It’s a unique chance to be a part of a team, and when everyone is working perfectly together all the hard work really shows,” wrote Hazel Culpsmith. Shae Taylor reflected on the environment of participating in the volleyball program. “Sports have impacted my life by giving me a family,” Taylor wrote in her questionnaire. “Sports has taught me mental toughness, leadership and hard work.” She also encouraged her underclass schoolmates not to look back with regret at their high school days. “Live it up and be kind, always.”
Christine Scott, in her fifth year as the coach, said that this is a special group that has faced many challenges over the past couple of years, with COVID-19, altered seasons and changing schedules. “It hasn’t been easy, but they’ve stuck together and played through it,” Scott acknowledged. With six seniors on the squad, this is the largest class to graduate since the 2006 season when they had eight, former coach Greg Knott said.
In the senior night match, the Bulldogs led from start to finish, on their way to their ninth league win of the season, 25-20, 25-12 and 25-14. The Mountain Lions were led by some solid serving efficiency, but Okanogan seemed to have an answer for most of what the home team could muster. Cooley, Taylor and MJ Mihalic were all perfect from the service line, keeping the ball in play. Mitchell led the team with 11 kills — three from front line blocking — and added four additional blocks on the Okanogan attack. Mihalic recorded eight digs, Cooley and Taylor had seven digs each and Rispone added three more.
On Thursday, Liberty Bell traveled to Tonasket for a thrilling five-set match against the Tigers. While the home team prevailed 3-2, assistant coach Stephanie Mitchell reported a “great game between two equally matched teams.” With the earlier soccer match going on outside the Tiger gym, a number of fans stayed and moved inside to cheer on the Lions and Tigers. “The gym was filled with school spirit from both sides. It was a high-energy match-up,” Mitchell said.
Taylor led Liberty Bell with 11 kills on the night, was solid from the service line and added 10 digs defensively. Jadyn Mitchell was perfect on 19 service attempts, including three aces, also had 10 digs, 10 kills and with three blocks for points on the front line. Cooley contributed defensively with eight digs and two blocks for kills and sophomore MJ Mihalic went 14 of 15 from service with two aces and 10 digs.
The teams alternated set wins, Tonasket taking sets 1 and 3 by scores of 25-21 and 25-18. Liberty Bell’s wins came in sets 2 and 4 by identical scores of 25-22. The Tigers closed the match out with a tight 15-12 win in set No. 5.
The district tournament gets underway on Monday, (Nov. 1) with all seven teams seeded according to regular season placement in the standings. As of Monday, Liberty Bell sits as the No. 5 seed in the North Central Washington 2B division, and awaits a road trip to the loser of Tuesday’s Brewster at Lake Roosevelt match in the single elimination round. Current league leader Manson (11-0) played at No. 2 Okanogan (9-1) for the regular season title and a first round bye as the No. 1 seed. Both of those matches occurred after the Methow Valley News went to press.
Tigers topple lions 4-1
Liberty Bell Girls Soccer fell at Tonasket to the Tigers last Thursday by a score of 4-1, their second loss to the Tigers. The loss at Tonasket dropped the Mountain Lions to seven wins and five losses overall, 6-2 in the North Central Washington B League standings.
“Thursday’s match against Tonasket was a disappointing loss for us,” said coach Katie Overbeck. “The final score did not reflect the game played, or how well Liberty Bell held their ground once they got their heads in the right place.”
Pointing to some difficulties in transition from defense to offense, and vice versa, Overbeck was analytical. “We suffered a breakdown between defense and offense against Tonasket like we had two different teams on the field. The good part is, we can fix that, and fix it we will. Liberty Bell played an awesome second half and didn’t let Tonasket score again.”
Tonasket opened the scoring, tallying two goals in the first 15 minutes of the match. Marit Nelson scored the lone goal for the visitors about midway through the first half. The Tigers added two more goals and clinched their No. 2 seed to Districts with the win.
While the final score was difficult for Overbeck, she did point to some special efforts that stood out. “Sophia Newton and Stella Scholz both had a great game” reported the coach. “One on one, Stella Scholz will win the ball. I don’t know how she does it, but she comes out with the ball at her feet every time. She’s fun to watch.”
The Okanogan Bulldogs, at 8-0 and holding the tiebreaker advantage, will be the No. 1 seed in the district tournament. District tournament play begins on Saturday,(Oct. 30). The Mountain Lions will host a first-round match as either the third or fourth seed in the eight-team first round.
Mountain Lions sweep Shockers 42-18
Liberty Bell football ran their season record to five wins against only one loss, defeating the visiting Waterville Shockers 42-18 at Mountain Lion Stadium in a rare Saturday-afternoon contest, forced by a shortage of game officials in the county.
It was the second win in as many games against the Shockers for the Mountain Lions, who won in late September in the Douglas County seat by a score of 41-24.
Freshman Lucien Paz again took the reins of the team as quarterback and led the offense to another solid performance. He completed 11 of 16 passing attempts for 168 and rushed the ball up and down the field 30 times, amassing 259 yards and two touchdowns. Connor Arndt crossed the goal line three times and added 43 yards on nine carries for the Mountain Lions. Paz spread his 11 completed passes around, with juniors Sawyer Crandall and Riley Lidey each nabbing four, and Arndt securing the other three completions.
Waterville opened the game with a successful on-side kick in an attempt to catch the home team off guard and jump out to an early lead, but the Lions were up to the task. They stifled the visitors, took the ball on downs and immediately marched the ball the length of the field for an opening touchdown and the permanent lead.
Coach Jeff Lidey’s strategy of initially running from the quarterback position opened up some passing lanes for Paz, but his scrambling ability kept the Shockers off balance all night long.
Beau Tanguy lead a rather stingy defense with 14 solo tackles and a fumble recovery. The Mountain Lions went to the locker room at halftime with a 28-6 lead.
“Waterville woke up [in the third quarter],” said Lidey, “keeping the ball on the ground and pounding it, scoring two more times after we lost a fumble and an onside kick, bringing the score to a worrisome 28-18.” After a sideline meeting, the Mountain Lions responded by scoring two more touchdowns and defensively shutting down the Shockers, leading to the 42-18 final score.
XC poised for successful district meets
Mountain Lion cross country has taken a scheduled week off after their very successful trip to the Gorge at George for the Moses Lake Invitational. The boys return to action on Wednesday (Oct. 27) at the WIAA District 6 State Qualifier meet at the Okanogan Valley Golf Course near Okanogan. The girls will run Friday at Pasco in the State Qualifier for District 5 and 6 Girls.
District 6, which is the B classification schools in North Central Washington, will send the top two teams to Pasco for the WIAA State Championship while the girls will send only one team from the combined District race. Allotments to the state meet are determined by the number of full teams in each District. Liberty Bell is the only full Girls team in District 6: District 5 has two, hence the required trip to Pasco for the District race.
The Mountain Lions are the pre-race favorites in both races, Will Halpin leads the youthful boys’ team with no seniors, yet a very strong supporting cast. Leki Albright leads the girls into the post-season races. Veteran senior Jori Grialou and sophomore Dashe McCabe look to keep pace with Albright and fill the top five with green-clad Mountain Lions. Senior Ayeanna Ruprecht, sophomore Sandra Hernandez and freshman Zoe Kaltenbach complete the team and look to play a strong role in the Mountain Lion scoring punch.