Powell opened pool play on Friday with convincing two-set wins over Montana visitors Hardin and Glendive, but had a bit more trouble with Miles City. The Cowgirls eked out a 21-18 win over the Lady Panthers in the first set, and Powell stumbled a …
Lady Panthers beat out 11 other teams in montana/wyoming challengeEleven volleyball teams traveled to Panther gym last weekend for an interstate tournament, but none of them could top the home-standing Powell Lady Panthers.After 37 matches among the 12 contenders, the championship came down to two orange-and black conference rivals, and the Lady Panthers finished off their march through the bracket with a 25-15, 25-18 win over the Worland Lady Warriors. Hardin, Mont. defeated Sydney, Mont. for third place.
Powell opened pool play on Friday with convincing two-set wins over Montana visitors Hardin and Glendive, but had a bit more trouble with Miles City. The Cowgirls eked out a 21-18 win over the Lady Panthers in the first set, and Powell stumbled a bit early in the second set before making a run off the serve of Olivia Rogers to take the lead. They overcame a short Miles City run mid-game before pulling away to take game two 21-14, and came back from an early Cowgirl lead to close out the match 21-16.
Coach Cindi Smith said the match-up with Miles City was a good test for her team, because it required them to adjust to the Cowgirls' strength and style of play.
“I was happy to see them adjust during a game,” Smith said. “
Sometimes it's hard for a team to make adjustments during competition, but they adjusted and took control.”
The three wins in pool play, along with a points-allowed advantage over the Lady Bulldogs of Lovell, who also went 3-0 in the pool, earned the Lady Panthers a bye in Saturday's bracket play, where they were challenged by Cody in the quarter-finals. The Lady Broncs came into the game on an emotional high following a close three-set match with Billings Central, and scored a 25-19 win over the Lady Panthers in the first game.
“They came in with momentum and we hadn't played a game yet,” Smith said. “We didn't play badly, but they were fired up.”
The Powell girls rallied in game two to reverse that score with a 25-19 win of their own and then settled the match with a 25-17 win in game three.
In the semi-finals, Powell took on Sydney, Mont. and dominated the first game, 25-12. Sydney came back in the second set, but not far enough to stop the Lady Panthers, who went into finals with a 25-19 win.
In the finals, the Lady Panthers faced a surprising Worland team, which had gone only 1-2 in pool play, but had beaten Glendive, Miles City and Hardin in bracket play to qualify for the finals.
Powell began the match with a four point run off Kayla Ando's serve, and built a 71 lead before Worland began a comeback. Despite three missed serves in a row by the Lady Warriors, Worland managed to climb back to tie the game at 10, but Savannah Donarski started a 7-2 run with her serve to take back the lead. The Lady Warriors closed the gap to 22-18 before Randi Asay served for the last three points, with game point coming on an ace.
Game two began with five straight points by the Lady Panthers, but Worland came back to take a 7-6 lead. A Donarski slam tied the score and the teams traded points to a 10-10 tie. At that point, the Lady Panthers opeed a three-point lead and stretched to six at 20-14. The Lady Warriors pulled to within four twice, but could not catch Powell, and the match ended with a Lady Warrior hit out of bounds.
Smith said the weekend demonstrated the balance that she says is the strength of her team.
“We showed good balance both offensively and defensively,” Smith said. “Everybody is doing her part, and everyone has a role in the way we play.”
Smith said winning the tournament before their home fans was a “great experience,” and she was pleased with the turnout. Some people were concerned that Saturday play ran behind schedule, but “volleyball people are used to that.”
Otherwise, Smith said, the event went smoothly, thanks to new PHS activities director Tim Wormald, school staff, community members and her freshmen and JV players.
“Everybody pitched in to make it run, and it went well for our first big tournament,” Smith said.