Netters drop conference opener

By: 
Sonja Karp

Sonja Karp

NLJ Sports Reporter 

 

Last weekend, the Lady Dogies Volleyball team’s conference opening contests didn’t turn out exactly as the squad had hoped, after struggling to pull things together on the road then facing a strong opponent at home. When it was all said and done, Newcastle walked away from the weekend down 0-2 in the quadrant.

Friday, the team headed over the mountain to take on the Lady Bobcats of Thermopolis. Having seen and defeated them the week prior at the Douglas tournament, confidence was high.

However, the Lady Dogies just couldn’t seem to get themselves started when they got off the bus.

“We beat them in two sets last week, but that was not how things went on Friday,” sighed head coach Ashley Reed. “We struggled to get our feet moving and to get in the game and stay there.”

From miscommunication to lack of awareness of their position on the court, the Lady Dogies committed uncharacteristic errors on their side of the net that cost them dearly, as they dropped their first quadrant matchup 15-25, 19-25 and 15-25.

It was a long drive back over the mountain for the squad only to face off against the Lady Bison in their home opener on Saturday. Though once again the ladies lost in three sets, according to Reed it was a much better performance.

“We looked like a whole different team against Buffalo,” she began. “If we had played that way against Thermopolis, we would have probably come out with the win.”

Buffalo traditionally puts a pretty scrappy team on the court, and Reed noted that she had seen them battle pretty well against the powerhouse Douglas Lady Bearcats the week before.

The ladies came out fighting in the first set then went on a run to take a 19-17 lead at one point. However, Buffalo answered back and was able to pull away at the end to take the 25-20 win.

The Lady Bison had one outside hitter who gave the Lady Dogies all they could handle, but when she rotated to the back row, there was a notable shift in the contest.

“I thought the girls really came out ready to play,” Reed nodded. “We made a couple of big plays that got the momentum going and we went on a couple of pretty nice runs, but just lost a little steam at the end.”

The second set did not start out quite as good as the first, and serving errors began to have an impact, but the team rallied to pull within one point before the Lady Bison put the set away 25-23. The third and final set was closely contested, however once again Buffalo got the upper hand and ended the match with a 25-17 victory. Despite the loss, Reed was much more pleased with her team’s effort and performance from the night before.

“I thought we really stepped it up in blocking on Saturday. We shut them down better than we did Thermop, although sometimes big hitters are actually easier to get a touch on than when they are dinking it over the net,” she stated. “Really, there were a lot of good things that I saw on Saturday that we can use going forward.”

Several players stood out on Saturday including Johnna Dawson and Claire Beastrom, who were instrumental in the back row. Middle hitter/blockers Lauren Steveson and Grace Coy also came through for their team in the front row.

“Johnna and Claire just made some really huge plays for us, Lauren was swinging hard and Grace was blocking like crazy,” Reed exclaimed. “Madi [Pearson] was also doing great things, and it really was just a whole team effort which is great to see.”

This week is a big one for the Lady Dogies with three contests scheduled. On Tuesday, the team traveled to Torrington to take on the Lady Blazers and on Friday they are on the road again to Douglas where they will face off against the Lady Bearcats. Saturday, the squad is home as they host the Wheatland Lady Bulldogs. This will be the fourth time these two have met this season and Newcastle is going in with a 2-1 advantage over their Platte County opponent.

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