WORDEN — Death, taxes, and Huntley Project volleyball contending for a state title.
The Red Devils have won three of the past four State B titles, finishing second last fall, and have won 12 under current head coach Iona Stookey.
Setter Macee Murphy and outside hitter Josie Hasler have been instrumental in Project’s postseason runs, and that will be no different this season.
“We’re best friends. We grew up together, so obviously a setter and hitter best friend combination is kind of nice. It’s really fun, I like it a lot," Hasler said.
“I think they’re just great kids. On and off the court, they’re just special. To me, but in the classroom and in the hallways. They’re headed in the right direction. They have a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. Sometimes high school kids don’t have that finish, I guess," Stookey said. "For those two, they’re just very driven and they just want to succeed. For them, they’re going to push themselves hard whether it’s in practice or the matches to give their best effort.”
As always, Project has played a tough non-conference schedule. While the Red Devils didn’t play in North Dakota as they have in the past, a pair of in-season tournaments and playing up a classification have been key to in-season development.
“Just the competition really helps us a lot and helps us focus on what we need to learn and just the little things we need to do," said Murphy.
“Especially playing (Billings) Central and Glendive, and Colstrip, we’ve had some great non-conference matches. We go to Forsyth (this) weekend. I just think that the tougher the competition the better it will be for you in the end," said Stookey.
It’s also been a big season for Murphy, who finished her junior campaign hobbled at state track with a stress fracture that affected her hip flexor, leaving unable to make the impact she’d have liked. That only served as motivation for the standout senior, who has been terrific this year.
“It really motivated me a lot just because I knew I could come back with a lot more stuff than I could have during track," said Murphy. "I didn’t get to show everyone what I could do then, so I wanted to bring it during volleyball season.”
The countdown to Bozeman is on for Project. The State B volleyball tournament will conclude exactly a month from today, where the Red Devils are looking to make up for last season’s runner-up finish.
“We just need to really stay focused on the basics. If we play good solid defense – we’re not very tall, I’ve said that before. But I think if we give it our best defensive effort, then obviously you have to put some balls down, too," Stookey said. "I think if we can all bring our ‘A’ game and believe in ourselves, and may the best team win, because there’s a lot of really good teams out there. We just want to keep working hard.”
Project will begin postseason play in a couple weeks as the Red Devils look to make it a baker’s dozen for Stookey.