Lady Dogies drop the ‘Cats

By: 
Sonja Karp

Photos by Alexis Barker/NLJ

Junior Shelby Tidyman runs down the lines of girls during the opening line up of the Lady Dogies game against the Burns Broncs on Saturday. 

Sonja Karp

NLJ Sports Editor

 

It has been a hot minute since Newcastle has gotten the better of Douglas in volleyball, as the Lady Bearcats have been a dominating force on the court for many years. The Lady Dogies came close earlier in the season when they met up in the Dogie Dome, however Douglas was able to rally from being down two sets to none to take the match by winning the last three. 

Friday, Newcastle tasted the sweet, sweet nectar of victory as they exacted vengeance for, not only the early season loss, but for losses handed to them by Douglas for years as they took the Lady ‘Cats down in four sets on their home court in front of their hometown fans.

“It was pretty exciting,” said coach Keeley Anderson. “When they finally got that last point and beat them, it was a moment that was pretty special.”

The first set was a little rough and was typical of the Lady Dogies. Though, recently, the third set has been the one where the team struggles a bit, this time it was the first, as the squad rallied at the end, but only could score 16 points before Douglas took the win.

Of the 25 points attributed to the Lady Bearcats, the Lady Dogies actually scored 12 of those due to avoidable errors on their side of the net.

“They had this nervous energy right away,” Anderson said. “They were also right next to the student section, which was really loud. Some of the girls feed off that energy, but some get nervous because of it. Once they started communicating and playing their game, they really turned it around.”

After struggling in the first, the Lady Dogies came back with a vengeance in the second and third sets, putting the ‘Cats away 25-19 and 25-18 respectively. 

“Our energy was better than Douglas. It felt like we were in control for the most part and kept them from doing a lot on their side of the net,” Anderson nodded. “Tiernan [Stanton] was hammering down over and over. Hunter [McFarland] was also swinging hard, and we really had everyone contributing. We were moving the sets around and mixing things up, so that was great to see.”

In the fourth set, the Lady Dogies started a little slow and had to come from behind, and Anderson admitted that she had to keep reminding the squad that they didn’t want to go to a fifth set because they tend to struggle with that short, 15-point contest. The team took the advice to heart and rallied to take the fourth set, and match, 26-24.

Three Lady Dogies ended up in double figures with kills. Stanton led with 16, while McFarland and MacKenzie Conzelman each put down 10. 

On Saturday, the Lady Dogies hosted their final regular season contests as they took on Buffalo and Burns in a triangular at the Dogie Dome. After playing well against Douglas, it appeared as though the squad had a hard time waking up to play their morning contest against the Lady Bison. 

“I was hoping that Buffalo would be the team that looked like they had to get up early and ride a bus to play, but it turned out that it was us,” Anderson said. “All of our first sets this weekend were pretty rough though, so I guess we were consistent with that.”

The blockers struggled due to the Bison mixing up the sets all over the net. However, as the match progressed, blocking picked up by the Dogies.

Buffalo had two weapons on the outside, and it was those two who gave the team fits. Though the Bison ended up winning the match by taking three of the five sets, the Lady Dogies actually scored more points. Collectively, Buffalo scored 94 points, while Newcastle scored 98.

Jaylen Ostenson, Stanton and McFarland each had great performances against the Bison as the three combined for 33 kills. In addition to her 9 kills, Stanton also served up 8 aces and denied 5 Bison swings, either solo or with the help of a teammate. 

For their last match of the day, and of the regular season, Newcastle took on the Lady Broncs of Burns. After battling with the Southeast squad early in the season, this was the first chance for the teams to meet since then, and once again, it was a battle which took five sets to decide. Though Burns would ultimately take the win, there was a mere 2-point differential in points scored throughout the five sets. 

“Burns also had two really strong outside hitters which gave us a hard time,” Anderson began. “By the end of the match, though, we were starting to get soft touches on those big hitters, which really helped out our back row, who really did an amazing job. I was super impressed with LaKacee [Lipp] in that game because once she got those hitter’s spots figured out, she helped us out a lot.” 

Stanton had a huge game at the net as she put down 21 kills against the Lady Broncs, and McFarland had yet another good game serving up 6 aces and setting up 20 kills for her team.

If this triangular was any indication, the 3A East Regional Tournament is shaping up to be an exciting one with six teams in the two quadrants all coming in with a legitimate chance to advance to the state tournament. 

It all came down to the last weekend, but as things shook out, Newcastle maintained the No. 3 seed in the Northeast division, so will start the regional tournament off against Wheatland, who slipped to the No. 2 seed in the Southeast. 

Though Newcastle split with the Lady Bulldogs during the season, the second match-up was against only their JV, therefore, the Wheatland varsity squad is coming in with a win over the Lady Dogies.

“I think that if we go and play them the way we’re capable, we can win,” said Anderson. “And we are not the same team who played them early in the season. We’ve been putting in a lot of work through the season, so I’m excited to see the girls face those teams they haven’t seen since the beginning of the season.”

Andrea Gregory, who had moved into the head coach position, is unable to attend the regional tournament in Thermopolis, so Anderson will be back at the helm for the weekend.

Newcastle will get started in the regional tournament at Thermopolis as they are scheduled to play at 11:45 a.m. on Friday morning in their first contest against Wheatland.

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