Netters ready for conference play

By: 
Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

Photo by Nicole McFarland/NLJ

Middle hitter/blocker Tiernan Stanton stretches out to send the ball back into the Lady Herders court Saturday in the first game of bracket play in Rawlins.

 

For the third weekend in a row, the Lady Dogie Volleyball team returned home with a 3-3 record in a preseason tournament. This time, they finished second place in the Silver Bracket of the Rawlins Invite.

Head coach Mickey Crabtree determined that her squad is putting together the pieces they need to be in place in order to have a successful season, and though the win/loss column is dead even, the losses have given the team the tools necessary to start their conference season this week.

“Though we started the weekend pretty slow, I watched the girls learn from every game,” Crabtree nodded. “By the end of the day on Saturday, they were matching my intensity on the sideline and I was really happy with what I saw.”

The Lady Dogies found a familiar team across the net in their first pool play match-up as they took on the Lady Bearcats of Douglas. After losing two tight games in the first two weekends, Newcastle, unfortunately,  were unable to get past them again, losing 19-21 and 17-21.

“It was close but it was definitely the worst that we’ve played them,” Crabtree admitted. “We struggled a bit on Friday, it was our first game after crawling off the bus from the long drive, we just didn’t play them as hard as we did the last two times, and we just kind of beat ourselves really.”

After the rather lackluster performance against Douglas, the Lady Dogies made some changes to their game when they took on Thermopolis in the second pool play match of the day where they took the easy W 21-9 and 21-13.

“The girls looked a lot better against Thermopolis where we were getting our run-throughs. They did get their butts reamed a lot through the first day, but they took it to heart and began to stay disciplined and were where they needed to be on defense and did much better.”

The final game of pool play had Newcastle up against the No. 3-ranked Pinedale Lady Wranglers. Though the score of the match didn’t reflect it, Crabtree felt her team played a much better game and the contest was closer than it appeared as the Lady Dogies lost 15-21 and 18-21.  

“We could have had them,” she determined. “Even though it was 7 p.m., it was our last game of the day, and it had been a long day, we looked so much better. Hopefully, we’ll see them again and give them a better look at what we can do.”

The 1-2 record from pool play put Newcastle into the silver bracket on Saturday morning where they found themselves up against the Glenrock Lady Herders, also for the third time this season. Once again, Crabtree’s crew got the better of their opponent in two sets, 21-9 and 21-18. 

“In the second set, I think we got a little over-confident, having beaten them every time we’ve seen them and did it pretty easily,” Crabtree said. “I think we kind of laid back a little bit in the second set.”

Newcastle led the whole second set, but then let them make a bit of a run before putting them away.

The semi-final match against the Worland Lady Warriors was a much different scenario, and the Lady Dogies battled to take the three set win, 19-21, 21-15 and 15-13.

“Worland was a good game. They were touching Tiernan’s [Stanton] hits and blocking Jay’s [Ostenson] hits, so it was something that the girls needed to adjust to,” Crabtree explained. “Our coverage wasn’t where it needed to be in the first set, but the girls got that fixed in the second set. It was really fun to see them go out there and compete.”

In the championship match, Newcastle got their first look of the season at Wheatland who has been doing well so far in pre-season play, and the Lady Dogies got to see why they’ve seen success as the squad lost 14-21 and 17-21.

“Their libero is crazy good,” Crabtree said. “She dug up everything we threw at her and not a lot hit the floor. They probably touched 80% of Tiernan’s hard hits.”

“But, we fought for it, and didn’t lay down,” she continued. “We moved the ball around a lot, which was great to see. I told them that I’d take a loss when we actually go out and play hard and put forth the effort to compete.”

With the pre-season over, the Lady Dogies head into conference play this week. First up is Glenrock once again as Newcastle will travel for their quadrant conference opener on Thursday. Then they will host their second quad opponent on Saturday as the Buffalo Lady Bison come to town for an 11 am start with the “C” game, followed by JV at noon and varsity action at around 1 p.m. 

“Glenrock will be a good game to open up conference play. I think they will want to come out strong,” Crabtree nodded. “I think Buffalo will be a good match-up. It’ll be a fight to the finish and the girls will have to get out and compete.”

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