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September 03, 2008 12:50 pm

Lady Panthers baptize gym with a big win

Written by Tribune Staff

It was the first varsity contest ever in the new Powell High School gymnasium, and the Lady Panther volleyball team dedicated it with solid win over the Billings Central Lady Rams Tuesday night.
Junior Kayla Ando, playing in her first varsity game, set the tone for the evening when she stepped to the service line and opened game one by serving an ace. The Lady Panthers took it from there, fighting off a strong effort by the Rams to take the first game 27-25, gaining momentum to win the second game 25-20, and then burying the Lady Rams 25-15 to complete a sweep in their first dual match of the season.
Billings Central made it tough for the Panthers in the first game, overcoming a six-point Powell run behind the serve of Olivia Rogers to take the lead midway through the game. But steady back line play and power hitting by Hannah Pollart and Savannah Donarski helped PHS reclaim the lead. The teams then exchanged points and the Panthers missed two chances at game point, allowing the Lady Rams to tie the match at 25, before putting the game away and taking a 1-0 match lead.
In the second game, Powell took an early advantage, but Central came back to keep the game close. Late in the game, though, the Panthers pulled away for the win.
The third game was all Powell. The Lady Panthers took an early 10-2 lead with a seven-point run on Randi Asay's serve, built it to double digits and fought off a late rally to preserve a 10-point win.
“It was a great team effort,” said PHS coach Cindi Smith. “The girls worked well together and everybody was doing her part.”
One key to the game, Smith said, was the Lady Panthers' approach at the service line.
“Over the weekend, we didn't serve aggressively,” Smith said. “We talked about it and they served more aggressively last night.”
As a team, the Lady Panthers served with 91 percent accuracy Tuesday night. Asay was 21 for 22 for the match and served three aces.
Ando was 13 for 14 after her game-opening ace, and Donarski was 10 for 10.
Ando also was the team's leader in assists with 16. Pollart was the offensive leader with 13 assists and 17 kills. Donarski scored 11 kills and Olivia Rogers had seven. Kami Cooley came off the bench to contribute three assists.
Defensively, Kelsey Allen and Donarski led in digs, with 16 and 14, respectively and Rogers picked up eight.
The opening night crowd, including an noisy contingent of PHS students, provided a boost to the team, Smith said.
“The student body was great,” Smith said. “Momentum is a big thing in volleyball and crowd support helps give you momentum.”
Riverton tournament
In their first competition of the season, the Lady Panthers went 2-2 in pool play at Riverton on Friday before falling to Rock Springs in bracket play Saturday.
Powell opened by defeating Cody in two games, 25-17, 25-19, and then lost a tough three-set match to Jackson, 25-22, 27-29, 15-17. They stayed close to Riverton, but lost in two games 23-25, 22-25, but came back to beat Pinedale 25-11, 25-22.
Winning five of nine games seeded the Lady Panthers into the bracket against Rock Springs, and the Tigers won in two games, 25-19, 25-12.
“We played well on Friday,” Smith said, “but on Saturday, we didn't play very well. Our youth showed up.”
Smith said the Jackson game was one the Lady Panthers should have won.
“We got down early, but came back and won the first game,” Smith said. “And we had three game points in game two, but served out of bounds.”
For the tournament, the Lady Panthers served with 87 percent accuracy, led by Allen and Rogers, were 91 percent accurate. Asay served six aces and Pollart five. Allen and Rogers also led in digs with 61 and 46, respectively. Pollart made 53 assists and Ando 27. Pollart also led in kills with 42 and Donarski contributed 35, and each contributed one solo block.
Only one game is on the Lady Panthers' schedule this weekend. They will make the long trip to the Tetons for another shot at the Jackson Broncs. On Tuesday, the Lady Panthers will travel to Lovell to open conference competition with the Lady Bulldogs.
Both matches are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. following freshman and junior varsity matches beginning at 4 and 5 p.m.