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Belgrade’s volleyball team was swept twice to begin the season Saturday in Great Falls. But first-year head coach Britt Murphy noted the mood was upbeat.

It was the first matches for the Panthers following a month of practice, and the team showed promise in Eastern AA defeats to Great Falls and Great Falls CMR.

“We were able to run some really quick plays today and get really comfortable with our rotation. The girls were really comfortable with each other and they were able to stay positive with each other the whole time,” Murphy said. “I think that all had a lot to do with the amount of practices we had.”

Unforced errors — the Panthers committed 41 — proved to be the team’s biggest battle on the day as Great Falls posted a 25-16, 25-16, 25-18 victory and then CMR beat the Panthers 25-10, 25-10, 25-7.

“The issues that we found were just making a lot of unforced errors,” said Murphy. “Less errors will come with more practice, but that’s gonna be a big point that we have to work on.”

Taylor Thomas led the Panthers offensively against Great Falls, finishing with four kills and an ace, while Olivia Wegner had eight digs.

Taylor Nicks had four kills against the Rustlers and Bryton Rogers had 1.5 blocks, while Tycelee Bowler tallied 15 digs.

“Defensively I think that we did a pretty stand up job today. Tycelee was all over the place and had a lot of digs against both teams,” said Murphy. “We definitely struggled offensively and with our blocks just because the other team’s offenses were a lot stronger that ours were.”

But, Murphy added, the team will look to build off of the losses.

“We’re excited to at least have a starting point and know what we need to work on moving forward,” she said. “I want to see these girls be able to make the court smaller by filling in those holes, and I want our offense to move a lot quicker so they can run those quick plays without having that big block up against them.”

Belgrade will make its home debut Thursday against Billings Skyview. The contest will serve as senior-parent night, and players are looking forward to performing in front of the hometown crowd.

“They’re definitely excited, especially since these girls all lost out on their club season. It’s been a long time since they’ve been able to play in front of their family,” said Murphy. “I think that their parents are almost more excited than they are.”

Great Falls def. Belgrade 25-16, 25-16, 25-18.

BELGRADE (0-1) - Kills: 15 (Taylor Thomas 4). Digs: 38 (Olivia Wegner 8). Blocks: 4 (4 with 1). Aces: 1 (Thomas). Assits: 15 (Dalanee Hicks 10).

GREAT FALLS - Stats not provided.

Great Falls CMR def. Belgrade 25-10, 25-10, 25-7.

BELGRADE (0-2) - Kills: 11 (Taylor Nicks 4). Digs: 36 (Tycelee Bowler 15). Blocks: 2 (Bryton Rogers 1.5). Aces: 2 (Bowler 1, Rogers 1). Assists: 10 (Delanee Hicks 6)

GREAT FALLS CMR - Stats not provided.

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