In the second match, the Lady Panthers faced Lander, a team they had beaten in the season opening tournament but lost to in Billings last week. This time it was a standoff in two close games. The Lady Tigers took the first game by a single point, …
The Powell Lady Panthers took a step forward on the volleyball court last weekend, coming back to win the silver bracket on Saturday after losing a tie-breaker in pool play on Friday at Rawlins.All of the state's 3A teams competed in the tournament, and most of the matches were close, according to Coach Cindi Smith.
In the second match, the Lady Panthers faced Lander, a team they had beaten in the season opening tournament but lost to in Billings last week. This time it was a standoff in two close games. The Lady Tigers took the first game by a single point, 25-24, but Powell came back to win the second, 25-23.
Against Douglas, the Lady Panthers opened with their only big loss of the weekend, dropping the first game to the Bearcats, 25-14. They came back to push Douglas in the second game, but fell 25-22.
The loss put the Lady Panthers into a tie with Lander, but the Lady Tigers had won one game against Douglas, so they advanced into the gold bracket and Powell dropped into the silver bracket.
The girls were disappointed by the development, but Smith said they handled it well.
“They got together and decided, at this moment in time, this is where we are, and we'll make the best of it,” Smith said. “On Saturday, I could see them come together as a team.”
The Lady Panthers came out strong against conference rival Worland, a team that had beaten Cody earlier in the week, and took the match in two, 25-17, 25-17. They followed up with a 25-13, 25-21 defeat of Thermopolis to make the finals.
In the finals, the Lady Panthers faced Torrington, a team Powell has seldom seen over the years, and the Lady Trailblazers jumped out to a 25-22 win and a 1-0 lead. The Lady Panthers responded to the pressure, coming back for a 25-20 win to tie the match, and capping the tournament with a 15-9 win in game three.
Smith said the Lady Panthers “have high expectations for themselves,” and were disappointed that they weren't in the top bracket on Saturday, but she was happy with the the way they had performed.
“I've seen growth, and that's what I want to see,” she said. “This year we're getting pushed, and it's good for us. It's a growing experience.”
Smith added that she had received “lots of compliments” from officials and others about the way the Lady Panthers had competed and conducted themselves during the competition.
The Lady Panthers continued their accurate serving during the weekend, serving with 93 percent accuracy in their six matches. Kadi Cooley led with 100 percent, and Olivia Rogers and Kendra Ostrom put 97 percent of their serves in play.
Ostrom and Hannah Groves each served 12 aces.
Rogers and Randi Asay combined for 78 of Powell's 127 kills to lead Powell's offensive effort. Rogers scored with 48 and Asay with 34, while Corianne McKearney and Liz Tilley chipped in 15 apiece. Cooley set up most of the kills from her setter's position.
Defensively, Rogers made four solo blocks, and assisted on three more. Tilley made two solos and McKearney and Asay each added one, and each of the trio scored eight assists. Groves led in digs, keeping 44 balls in play, and Rogers and Asay each added 26.
After three big weekends on the road, the Lady Panthers have a quieter week, and Smith said it is welcome.
“We're still on the road, but closer,” Smith said. “Then we have the weekend off, and the girls can rest a little.”
Tuesday (tonight) the Lady Panthers travel to Greybull to take on the Lady Buffaloes in an interclass match before starting conference play against Cody in Cody. The Fillies, winners of last week's Montana Wyoming Challenge in Billings, were upset last week in Worland in five sets and are 0-1 in conference play.