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Lady Panther volleyball season comes to a close at regionals

Powell High School senior Aubrie Stenerson goes for a dig while teammates Jordan Walsh (No. 6) and Natalie Birdsley (in white) watch intently during a Saturday morning game against Pinedale at the 3A West Regional volleyball tournament in Riverton. Powell High School senior Aubrie Stenerson goes for a dig while teammates Jordan Walsh (No. 6) and Natalie Birdsley (in white) watch intently during a Saturday morning game against Pinedale at the 3A West Regional volleyball tournament in Riverton. Tribune photo by Breanne Thiel

Losses to Star Valley, Pinedale end Powell’s state tourney hopes

The Lady Panthers volleyball team competed at the 3A West Regional volleyball tournament in Riverton on Friday and Saturday, losing to Star Valley in three sets and Pinedale in four to bring an end to the season.

Star Valley 3, Powell 0

“The match against Star Valley on Friday was back and forth the first two sets,” said PHS head coach Randi Bonander. “The third set was dominated by Star Valley.”

The set scores were 26-25, 25-21 and 25-11.

“Our team had a great serve-in percentage of 97 percent,” Bonander said.

Alli Sommerville, Aubrie Stenerson, Hartly Thorington, Jordan Walsh and Natalie Ostermiller all had a 100 percent serve percentage and Rachel Bonander added two ace serves.

“We only had 16 kills as a team,” coach Bonander said.

Stenerson led with eight kills, followed by Rachel Bonander with three and Thorington with two.

“Our team passing average was lower than normal, 2.01,” coach Bonander said.

Stenerson led with 2.39, Sommerville with 2.24 and Walsh with 2.19. Walsh led with 22 set assists and Natalie Ostermiller followed with 21. 

Stenerson led digs with six and Rachel Bonander led the blocks with six, followed by Jazlyn Haney with three and Devon Curtis with two.

“We had to put up a strong block against their senior middle hitter and experienced junior outside hitter, which was hit and miss,” coach Bonander said. “Our hitters didn’t swing as much as we normally do in a match, which had to do with our lower passing average.”

Star Valley made it to the championship match, where they lost to Riverton in four.

Pinedale 3, Powell 1

“The girls came back Saturday morning determined and ready for competition,” coach Bonander said.

Pinedale won the first set 25-23, but Powell rebounded to win the second, 25-14.

“This match was much more back and forth,” said coach Bonander. “We were able to go on runs, but then also come back from five-point deficits.”

The third and fourth set went to Pinedale with scores of 25-21 and 25-14.

“We just couldn’t get the wins to claim the match,” coach Bonander said. “The girls played hard against a solid Pinedale team.”

The team’s serving percentage dropped to 93 percent. Rachel Bonander and Walsh got all of their serves in, followed by Sommerville at 92 percent and Stenerson at 91 percent.

The Lady Panthers’ team kills were almost triple from the previous day’s match at 40, “which was supported by our higher team passing average at 2.47,” coach Bonander said.

Stenerson led in kills with 15; Thorington was right behind with 12. Both Rachel Bonander and Jazlyn Haney had five each. 

Stenerson led the Lady Panthers in passing average with 2.87, followed by Sommerville with 2.48, Natalie Birdsley with 2.39 and Walsh with 2.29.

Walsh had almost triple set assists against Pinedale at 60, followed by Natalie Ostermiller with 26 and Rachel Bonander with 21. 

Sommerville and Stenerson each had five digs and Birdsley had four.

Wrapping up the season

“Even though the season didn’t end the way we wanted it to, there are a lot of positives to focus on this year,” said coach Bonander.

The Lady Panthers started off the season winning the Riverton invitational tournament, which coach Bonander described as “definitely a confidence booster.”

At the Border Wars tournament, Powell was challenged by the Montana teams.

“From there, we were up and down,” coach Bonander said. “We had some hard fought wins and losses.”

Coach Bonander said the middle part of the season brought some of the juniors “the opportunity to step up and see some varsity playing time, along with varsity players playing all the way around instead of just half a rotation. This was a challenge but definitely prepared us for the last regular season games.”

“We played some phenomenal volleyball during the last weekend of regular season. This is what every coach wants to see happen with their team,” Bonander said. “I truly believe we lost to two teams who were better than us on that particular day. We didn’t give up without a fight, which is a trait of Lady Panther athletes.” 

The team had four seniors — Sommerville, Birdsley, Brook Sweet and Walsh.

Of Sommerville, coach Bonander said her departure “will be a loss to our back row as a defensive specialist, passer and solid server. She was a versatile player that I could call on to play front row as needed.”

“Natalie Birdsley was a hard working libero,” coach Bonander said. “She figured out ways to do her job better every week during the season.”

Of Sweet, coach Bonander said she “helped lead the middle blockers in the front row to put up solid blocks all year, as well as stepping into the setting position when needed, and sending difficult serves over to our opponents.”

“Jordan Walsh led the team with her setting ability from the start and then developed her digging performance to help the team keep the ball in play, as well as her consistent 98 percent serving percentage,” the coach said.

For the future, coach Bonander said “we will have a large group of seniors next year. We have a lot of work to do in the offseason to prepare for a successful year, but we also have varsity experience to help lead our team.”

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