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Panthers take second at regional volleyball

The Powell Panthers volleyball team avenged one painful loss, but was unable to double-down as it qualified for the state tournament and claimed next-best at the 3A West regionals in Lyman.

The Panthers defeated Pinedale and Lyman on Friday to advance to the championship game, but soon found itself in the familiar position of looking up to No. 2-ranked Star Valley.

Powell lost to both teams at the 3A West duals in Cody Oct. 5-6.

The Braves opened the championship match with a six-point victory, the closest the Panthers would come to taking a set from Star Valley.

Powell fell in three straight sets, 19-25, 13-25, 12-25.

“Saturday’s match was a hard way to end because we didn’t play to our fullest potential,” said Powell head coach Cindi Smith.

The Panthers were unable to get their offense going, as the low points output would attest to.

Junior Shawnea Harrington led the Panthers with five kills, one more than usual kill-leader Becky Dent, and setter Kadi Cooley assisted on only eight Panther attacks.

“Offensively we didn’t make effective decisions and stay aggressive,” Smith said.

Defensively, the Panthers were unable to quell the Braves’ attack.

“Our defense broke down,” Smith said. “We didn’t put up an effective block to stop their attack. This made it hard for the back line to make defensive reads.”

The Panthers totaled only five blocks, led by Dent and Corianne McKearney with two a-piece.

“We also need to limit our unforced errors in order to compete with solid teams like Star Valley,” Smith said.

Powell opened the weekend with a match quite the opposite to its loss to Star Valley.

The Pinedale Wranglers offered little resistance as PHS defeated them 25-11, 25-12, 25-18.

“We came out aggressive and played with confidence,” Smith said.

The Panthers had previously defeated Pinedale Oct. 5 at conference duals in Cody.

McKearney had six kills and three blocks, Dent notched seven kills, a block and seven digs , Cooley recorded 18 assists and sophomore libero Jenni Ebersberger had 13 digs.

The Panthers concluded the first day of regionals with a five-set match that didn’t end until early Saturday morning.

Powell defeated Lyman in a late-night seesaw match that traded victors with each set. Powell ultimately outlasted the Eagles at around 12:30 a.m. The Panthers left the gym with a 25-15, 21-25, 25-17, 19-25, 15-10 victory.

“The team played hard. This was a great team effort and win,” Smith said.

Dent had her most productive game of the tournament, recording 23 kills and 29 digs, both team-highs.

Harrington added eight kills and two blocks and McKearney had six and four of her own.

“We did a better job blocking which helped the back line get good defensive reads,” Smith said.

Cooley assisted on 34 Panther kills in what was Powell’s only match to go beyond a third game.

Powell will open its run at a state championship against Rawlins Thursday at 6 p.m. in Casper. If Powell (seeded second in the West) wins its first game it will play the winner of the Torrington-Lyman match-up.

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