Lady Dogies fight epic battles

By: 
Sonja Karp

Photo courtesy of Nicole McFarland

Tiernan Stanton is a blocking and hitting force at the net for the Lady Dogies. The junior got up for 22 kills in the Lady Dogies’ contests against Torrington and Wheatland last weekend.

 

Sonja Karp

NLJ Sports Editor

 

If you didn’t watch Lady Dogie volleyball last weekend, you missed out!

Two matches, nine sets, and back-and-forth, knock-down-drag-out face-offs between 3A East Southeast Quadrant teams made for highly entertaining contests for fans to watch — and Newcastle came out with a win and a loss against Torrington and Wheatland respectively.

Looking away, even for a minute, meant you missed something big during both Friday and Saturday night’s matches.

After a spirit-filled Homecoming week, the Lady Dogies hosted the Torrington Lady Trailblazers on Friday evening, and acting head coach Andrea Gregory was pleased to see her team ready to play. 

In the first set, Torrington pulled to a 14-8 lead before Newcastle was able to rally back within one. The ‘Blazer’s tall, middle hitter/blocker Allison Brummel gave MacKenzie Conzelman some trouble at the net, but Mack also gave it back to her.

Unfortunately, Torrington went on a 6-3 run to make it a catch-up game for the Lady Dogies who would drop the initial set 23-25. 

“We switched our lineup to make sure that Tiernan [Stanton] was in the front row against Reece [Halley],” Gregory explained. “That put Mack up against their tall middle blocker who has her timing down well, which got Mack a couple of times. That was a little frustrating for her, but she adjusted.”

Newcastle seemed warmed up going into set two, and sophomore McKenzie Rose was on point from the service line making serve receive tough for Torrington. 

The Lady Dogies jumped out to a 9-2 advantage after a 7-0 run. Between forcing overpasses and taking advantage of those at the net, Newcastle pulled to a 14-3 lead before the ‘Blazers could stop the bleeding.

But volleyball is a game of momentum, and between a combination of the outside hitting power of Halley and the blocking presence of Brummel, Torrington came blazing back to tie things up at 20. 

By this time, both teams were out of timeouts, however Shelby Tidyman took advantage of a slow shoe-tying moment to give her team a moment to collect themselves, and after, her team went to work to take the 25-22 win.

With the match tied up at 1-1, the fight was on. In set three, the two teams went back and forth with the last tie occurring at 13-13. Newcastle was able to turn up the heat in the last half of the set, as Jaylen Ostenson served out the final 7-0 run to dominate Torrington 25-15 and take a 2-1 set advantage.

Torrington went into the fourth set knowing it was do-or-die for them, and they played as such. They came out strong and had a three point advantage over the Lady Dogies until Newcastle recovered to tie things up at 12s. After that, it was back and forth with a final tie of 21-21 until the Lady Dogies were able to push to the 25-21 set and match win.

Ostenson was dialed in for Newcastle, mixing things up by swinging hard for kills and then placing the ball strategically to rack up 19 kills on the night, while Stanton was close behind with 14. Conzelman ended the night with one solo block and five block assists as she put up a wall at the net while Rose dominated the service line with six aces.

“Jaylen’s hit and tip game were on point and she kept switching things up and finding holes, which she was able to hit for points,” Gregory said. “Starting Tiernan in the back row gave her an open net which she was able to take advantage of to swing away, and that’s where we got a lot of our points and momentum.”

On Saturday, Newcastle traveled to Wheatland, and like warriors on the field of battle, the Lady Dogies and Lady Bulldogs faced off and fought to the death to come out on top. 

In a best out of five contest, it would come down to all five sets and more before a winner would be decided, and each one consisted of long volleys that had fans on the edge of their seats. 

“It was like a pendulum in every set,” Gregory began. “We would score a point or two and then they would. We talked in the huddle about it all coming down to math. You have to make a run of three or four and then stop them at one or two.”

In the first, the Bulldogs and Dogies went point for point, refusing to let the other gain an advantage. Neither squad held larger than a two point lead and there were eight ties before Newcastle was able to edge out Wheatland for the 26-24 win.

The second set brought about much of the same with the lead changing hands throughout, however, the Lady Bulldogs were able to go on a 4-2 run to take a 25-18 win to even things up at one set to one.

Set three was another barn burner with Wheatland edging out Newcastle for the 25-22 win. The Lady Dogies came stampeding back to lead the entire fourth set for the 25-18 win, pushing the match into a fifth set.

Determination and grit was evident from both squads in the 15-point deciding set, and ironically, this last set mirrored the first of the night only to end with an opposite result.

The Lady Dogies reached the “first to eight” rule which nearly always means a victory, however, the Lady Bulldogs were not to be denied. It began to look as if the match could go on forever as the two teams were tied from 13s through 19s with each team exchanging the lead with the chance for set and match points. 

Wheatland was ultimately able to go on a 3-0 run to finally clinch the match with a 21-19 win over Newcastle. 

“You can’t ever count Wheatland out because they are scrappy, and we talked about that and I thought our girls rose to that challenge,” Gregory said. “The volleys lasted and it was a point for point battle, so the girls walked out of there with their heads held high.”

This week is back to quadrant play as the team hosts Douglas on Thursday. Right
now, the two teams are tied in the quad, so
it’ll be a great opportunity to decide that situation. Then on Friday, Newcastle will go to Sundance for a non-conference contest against the Lady Bulldogs.

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