Netters ride a roller coaster in Rawlins

By: 
Sonja Karp

 

The Lady Dogie volleyball team has packed a lot of contests into the beginning of their season, as they competed in their third tournament in as many weeks last Friday and Saturday in Rawlins.

Head coach Ashley Reed’s squad has admittedly struggled against some tough competition, and as a relatively young crew, are continuing to try to discover their groove. In Rawlins, the ladies were able to find their sweet spot in a couple of matches to come away with a 2-4 record and a sixth place finish in the silver bracket. However, Reed admitted that the going was not easy.

“Pretty much the whole weekend was hit or miss for us,” Reed sighed. “Either we killed our competition, or we got killed by them. We didn’t seem able to adjust and meet in the middle.”

Many 3A squads from across the state — and all of the East Conference teams — were in attendance, so coaches and players were able to get a glimpse at the competition prior to kicking off conference play for the season.

Friday’s lineup consisted of pool play, and Newcastle faced off against Powell right out of the gate. It was obvious from the scores, 3-21 and 5-21, that the Lady Dogies were not exactly on their game. However, they rebounded well from the loss in their next contest against Wheatland to defeat the Bulldogs 21-17 and 21-13.

“Against Powell, we just couldn’t seem to put anything together, but that all changed against Wheatland,” Reed explained. “We should have beat them by more in the first set because we let them go on about a four point run in the middle, but everything really came together and we pulled out the win.” 

The final match of the day pitted the Lady Dogies against the Lyman Lady Eagles, who dominated Newcastle 21-8 and 21-11.

“Lyman had one server who really got us stuck in a rotation. As soon as Grace [Coy] rotated to the back row we were stuck,” Reed sighed. “In fact, it was Grace who scored every point for us in the two sets.”

Reed analyzed that it was a combination of Lyman and Powell both presenting pretty good, and good-sized, competition as well as errors on the part of the Lady Dogies which contributed to the losses on the day. 

Their pool play record advanced Newcastle to the Silver Bracket on Saturday, where they faced Burns in the first match of the day. Although they battled pretty well with the Lady Broncs last weekend in Douglas, the squad quickly dropped both sets 11-25 and 10-25.

“I don’t know if we just didn’t wake up that morning or what happened, but we just could not get it going,” Reed exclaimed. “The losses were really all on us with errors because they are certainly not that much better than us.”

Bad serves and simple mistakes — like not being able to free ball it back over the net — plagued the team, and Reed blamed standing still and not being in the game mentally for the slow start to the day.

Like on Friday, the second match went much better for the ladies as they pulled things together to get a win over Thermopolis 21-20 and 21-17.

“We did some really good things again, and were pretty solid throughout,” Reed began. “We were able to get and maintain the momentum in our favor, and never let them get any big runs on us.”

The win advanced the Lady Dogies to the fifth place match, where they met Wheatland for the third time in two weeks. Newcastle entered the contest having a 2-0 advantage over the Lady Bulldogs, but this time things did not go in the team’s favor. 

“We went into the game having beat them handily twice, but once again we were just not there mentally,” Reed frowned. “We just couldn’t get out of our own way to stop making silly errors. I have to say that Wheatland played better, but not that much better to be able to dominate us 10-21 and then 9-21.”

The team opens up conference and quadrant play this weekend as they head to Thermopolis to take on the Lady Bobcats on Friday, and then will host the Lady Bison of Buffalo in their home opener on Saturday.

The Lady Dogies have seen Thermopolis so they have an idea of what they will bring to the opposite side of the net, and have an added advantage given Newcastle didn’t reveal their full arsenal because starting setter Isabel Frank was not playing at the Rawlins tournament.

Reed and her crew also had the opportunity to see Buffalo in action last weekend, so got an idea of what they have in their arsenal as well.

The freshmen will start things off at 2 p.m. on Saturday with the varsity scheduled to begin at 4.

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