The Powell Panthers volleyball team got its first look at what the Southwest division has to offer at the 3A West Conference duals in Jackson over the weekend.
Powell (22-7, 4-1) went 3-1 at the duals Friday and Saturday and then beat Class 2A’s Shoshoni in straight sets Monday.
It was a total team effort from the Panthers as players up and down the lineup contributed to the successful four-day span.
Freshman Kalina Smith led the Panthers in kills four of the five matches while averaging 3.36 kills per set (not counting hitting errors).
Sophomore setter Breanna Donarski directed the offense with 72 total kills and scored herself with 12 serving aces.
Kelsey Marchant provided stability and offense as a server. The junior missed only two of 73 serves with nine aces in four matches.
Junior libero Jenni Ebersberger totalled 119 digs and eight aces across the five games.
The No. 3-ranked Panthers opened the duals with a loss against No. 5 Mountain View, but bounced back for victories against Pinedale, Star Valley and Lyman.
Head coach Cindi Smith said it was good for the Panthers to play teams with diverse styles, as they must learn to prepare against all competition.
“Each of the teams have different strengths that they bring to the court,” Smith said. “We did well but we have to be ready to step out focused and ready to compete hard against all teams.”
The loss to Mountain View was Powell’s first defeat since losing to Worland Sept. 26.
As was the case against the Warriors, Powell battled the first-place Buffalos for five hard-fought sets before being dispatched, 17-25, 25-20, 18-25, 25-17, 13-15.
Smith said the loss at least gave the team another five-set experience.
“We stepped out strong in the fifth set but didn’t finish, letting them come back after establishing a big lead,” Smith said. “These are situations we will use to pull together and become a stronger team.”
Smith led the offense with 15 kills followed by seniors Tori Sleep (nine) and Shawnea Harrington (seven).
The offense was set up evenly between Smith and Donarski, who each had 15 assists. Ebersberger had a team-high 23 digs, followed closely by Smith (20) and Marchant (11).
The net was patrolled by the senior duo of Sleep and middle blocker Cassidi Partridge. Sleep had five solo blocks, the most of any Panther in Jackson, and Partridge added three plus one block assist. Smith tallied a single solo block and three assists.
Marchant was a perfect 16-for-16 on serves while Donarski and Smith were both 22-for-23.
Powell dusted off the two-point loss in set five and beat the Pinedale Wranglers 25-10, 23-25, 25-21, 25-14 later Friday afternoon.
Donarski had six aces on an 18-for-18 serving performance and added 12 assists in the four-set victory.
Junior middle Taylor Woodward led the offense with 14 kills. Smith and Sleep each added nine to give Powell a well-balanced attack.
Smith said Powell’s attack, led by the freshman outside hitter, has learned as the season’s progressed to play both smart and aggressively along the net.
“We also did a nice job recognizing what was working for us and utilizing our hitters effectively,” Smith said.
Ebersberger notched 36 digs, a five-match high, and Smith had 12.
Ebersberger also successfully passed 27 of 28 serves she received while Smith was 15-for-15.
Saturday’s slate started with a four-set win against against Star Valley.
The Panthers dropped the first set 23-25 but stormed back to down the Braves 25-20, 25-14, 27-25.
The offense again came from all sides. Smith had 12 kills, Harrington nine, Sleep eight and Partridge seven.
When Smith was spiking down the third touch, she was dishing out one of her 13 assists, second on the team to Donarski’s 14.
The back-row defense was also a team effort. Ebersberger and Smith each had 19 digs and Marchant and junior Makaila Moore each had 13.
Ebersberger passed all 36 of the serves that came her way, again proving her defensive value.
Moore was a perfect 10-for-10 on serves. Marchant was 25-for-26 with four aces and Donarski was 17-for-18 with one ace.
Partridge patrolled the net and tallied three solo blocks.
Powell’s final match was its shortest, as it dispatched Lyman in three sets, 25-16, 25-19, 25-22.
Smith had her best offensive game in Jackson with 16 kills and 14 assists. Harrington had seven kills, two solo blocks and a block assist, and Partridge added two solo blocks and one assist.
The blocking during conference duals was another sign in the right direction.
“We want to continue to build on the blocking growth we have seen the past few weeks,” Smith said.
Ebersberger led with 18 digs and also had two aces on 15-for-15 serving.
Monday’s match against Shoshoni (played in Greybull) was originally scheduled for Friday night but moved so the team could support the PHS football team against Cody.
The Panthers took care of business to start their week by beating Shoshoni 25-21, 25-7, 25-17.
Smith again paced the offense with 12 kills to go along with 15 digs. Harrington had eight kills and Sleep was responsible for five.
Donarski did damage from both inside and outside the court. The setter assisted on 15 kills and served up five aces on a 23-for-23 night.
Ebersberger landed six aces and got 23 digs.
Partridge limited the Shoshoni offense with two solo blocks and one block assist.
The Panthers will resume 3A Northwest play today (Thursday) with their final regular season game at 6:30 p.m. in Cody. Powell will be back in Cody Oct. 25-26 for the regional tournament.