Netters wrap up preseason play in Rawlins

By: 
Sonja Karp

Chad Ostenson tries his hand at coaching volleyball in the absence of head coach Keeley Anderson and assistant coach Andrea Gregory. 

 

Sonja Karp

NLJ Correspondent

 

The Lady Dogies finished up their preseason tournament schedule at the Rawlins Invitational Friday and Saturday. These first three weekends of the season have been all about getting ready for conference play, and the squad has taken full advantage of the opportunity to fine tune their game and work through some adversity in the process.

A week ago in Gillette the ladies were short players, and in Rawlins, they were short coaches. As such head basketball coach Chad Ostenson accepted the call to fill in
for head coach Keeley Anderson and assistant coach Andrea Gregory.

“Being a volleyball coach was hard,” Ostenson admitted. “It was fun, but it was very different than coaching basketball. Fortunately, they have a pretty good crew who know what they are supposed to do, and I had girls on the bench helping me out with suggestions to improve their play.”

With all nine girls being active participants throughout each match, Ostenson noted that it was a real team effort and the squad showed improvement over last week in many aspects of their play. 

The first match-up for the Lady Dogies in pool play on Friday were the Lady Wranglers from Pinedale. These were two very evenly matched teams who battled back and forth to ultimately split the match. Newcastle dropped the first 18-21 and rallied to win the second, 21-20.

Next up were the Lady Bulldogs of Lovell whom Newcastle took care of with ease, winning 21-15 and 21-16. The final match of the day was yet another meeting with the Burns Lady Broncs. For the third week in a row, these two teams battled and Newcastle ended the day the same way they started, with a tie — the first set ending in a 20-21 loss, and the second, a win of 21-17.

Their record put them in the silver bracket on Saturday and their first opponent was the Lady Warriors of Worland. In the first set, the Lady Dogies rolled over their opponent, winning 21-12. However, Worland came back with a vengeance and then beat Newcastle 21-12, and 15-7.

“That was our weakest performance of the weekend,” Ostenson admitted. “I think maybe they got a little complacent after taking care of them pretty easily right away, and then they had the momentum going into the third.”

The loss meant the team had a bye in the second round of the tournament, and set them up to have a rematch against Lovell for the consolation championship. There was no complacency in this title match, as Newcastle again dominated, winning in two sets with twin scores of 21-16.

Last week in practice, coach Gregory noted that a focus was going to be on controlling hits a little more to keep them on target and Ostenson confirmed that the work paid off. 

“We were doing a much better job of keeping our hits in, and we were really hitting pretty well all weekend,” he nodded. 

With the return of 6-foot, 2-inch middle hitter/blocker Tiernan Stanton, the team’s blocking stats were back to normal. With the help of the front line slowing down the attack, the back row was then in a better position to get that pivotal first touch more on target.

“I don’t know a ton about volleyball, but I do know that you have to get a good pass to set up the whole offense, and I felt like our passing looked a lot better than it has the last couple of weeks,” Ostenson said. “The better the pass, the better the sets, the better the hits. Their first pass just looked so much better. They were reading the ball and getting to it which was great.”

The Lady Dogies will be taking all their preseason growth into this week as they launch conference play on Friday with their home opener against the Thermopolis Lady Bobcats. On Saturday, they will travel to Buffalo to take on the Lady Bison.

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