This will be the first time the Panthers face Rawlins this season, but Powell head coach Cindi Smith has an idea of what to expect from the Outlaws.
“I know that they’ll be scrappy and we have to be ready for deeper balls,” Smith said.
The Panthers are one year removed from their previous appearance at state. The team’s three seniors, Kadi Cooley, Becky Dent and Corianne McKearney, are the only Powell players with state experience.
“They know what it’s about. They’ll have all the confidence and they’ll do a great job leading us,” Smith said.
The Panthers begin this weekend’s tournament just five days after dropping the 3A West regionals championship game to Star Valley, the No. 1 team in the West.
If Powell advances to the semifinals it will face either Torrington, the top team in the East, or the West’s fourth-seeded Lyman, a team the Panthers took down in five sets at regionals Oct. 19.
Powell had previously lost to Lyman in four sets at conference duals.
Torrington, a team that wasn’t even ranked in the season’s final Wyopreps.com Coaches and Media poll, surprised in the 3A East regionals by overtaking Wyopreps.com’s No. 1-ranked Douglas in five games in the final match.
“Whatever opponent we get we have to be ready to step out and play our game,” Smith said.
On the other side of the bracket, Star Valley looms, ready to make a run at a title. In the Braves’ way stands the East’s fourth-seeded Newcastle. Should Star Valley win that quarterfinal match they will face the winner of the Lander Valley (third in the West) versus Douglas (second in the East) match-up at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Powell has lost twice to Star Valley this season, once at conference duals and again at regionals. The Panthers have had better luck against Lander, defeating the Tigers three of the four times they’ve met this season. The teams split the regular season division matches but Powell beat Lander in both the Montana-Wyoming Classic in Billings and at the Rawlins Invitational.
Powell defeated Newcastle 21-16, 21-16 when the teams met at the Rawlins Invitational.
The Panthers split the two games they played against Torrington at the Rawlins Invitational, 15-21, 21-16.
Smith said that seedings and poll rankings matter little at the state tournament.
“Bottom line is, when it comes to tournament time, it’s the team that steps out ready to go,” she said.
Powell will play one game per day, Thursday through Saturday. The championship game will be Saturday at 5 p.m.
Schedules and results can be found at www.whsaa.org.