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BILLINGS – Three coaches in three seasons is tough way for a program to gain consistency.

Tonya Chapweske, the third and most recent in line for the Miles City volleyball program, hopes Tuesday night’s fingernail-biting five-set win over Billings Central is a springboard to unlocking the potential she thinks her team has.

“Even though I’ve known these girls since they were little – I have a daughter (Josie) playing and have always been around them – they still have to trust you, trust your decisions,” Tonya Chapweske said after the 27-25, 25-27, 25-23, 21-25, 15-13 win. “I always try and make the right one for the team but the right one for the kid, too. I want them to play for fun, I want them to enjoy it.”

The Cowgirls certainly enjoyed their time at Central’s Ralph Nelles Activities Center, where the defending Class A champion Rams suffered a rare Eastern A loss. The teams went back and forth throughout the match, but it’s fair to say Miles City usually had the Rams on their heels.

“We just wanted to come here and show BC and everyone what we could do,” Miles City senior Saige Diegel said. “I think we were more energetic and we didn’t let down. We didn’t want to lose. We pushed so hard.”

Kyra Oakland finished with 18 kills and 11 digs to lead the Cowgirls, who improved to 4-3 in the league and prevented the Rams from clinching a regular-season title outright. Diegel added 10 kills and 10 digs, and Ryleigh Simonsen and Josie Chapweske added 10 digs, as well.

The Rams appeared to have the upper hand after a serving run by Christy Cox gave them a 5-1 lead early in the decisive set. But Simonsen answered with a run of her own for a Cowgirls lead. Tied at 13-13, a kill by Morgan Johnstone and a roll shot by Diegel gave the Cowgirls the win.

Olivia Moten-Schell had 26 kills, and Avery Hadley and Taylor Bowen had 36 and 31 digs, respectively, for the Rams, who dropped to 7-1 in the league.

“Certainly, I’d rather lose here than at divisionals or at state,” Central coach Kylie Reitz said. “We knew that this was a good team. At those tournaments we’re going to play good teams, teams that aren’t going to roll over and give it to us. We have to earn it, and we didn’t earn it tonight.”

If Reitz hopes the timing of the loss can benefit her team, Chapwekse hopes the road win over a quality opponent does the same for her Cowgirls.

“I still feel like we’re getting better every week, that’s kind of been our goal,” she said. “We’re definitely going to ride the momentum as long as we can.”

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