Netters wrap up preseason play

Sonja Karp, Sports Editor

The Lady Dogie volleyball team traveled to Rawlins to play in their third and final preseason tournament Friday and Saturday, in what is the one and only opportunity for all 16 teams in 3A to get a glimpse of each other prior to the state tournament. 


Candi Stanton, who filled in for head coach Mickey Crabtree after she gave birth to her daughter on Tuesday of last week, noted that the squad worked through adjustments to pre-tournament game plans and made notable improvements over the weekend. The team ended the weekend placing sixth in the Silver bracket, picking up one win.


“This tournament is a really great opportunity to see the west side, because we won’t again until state,” Stanton explained. “We had a bit of a slow start, so Friday was a day of improvement, but definitely was not where we need to be, considering our potential.”


Up first for the Lady Dogies was Powell. The Lady Panthers proved too much for Newcastle who were defeated 12-21 and 11-21. Lander was next, and they too defeated the Lady Dogies, 7-21 and 11-21.


“We came in running a rotation that worked really well for us last weekend. We were short a player then and we had her back this weekend,” Stanton began. “We just didn’t feel a great energy in our first two matches running that rotation, so we switched things up in the third match to run a 6-2 instead of a 5-1, and that seemed to work better.”


The final match of the day saw the Lady Dogies pitted against the Lady Bearcats of Douglas. The ‘Cats returned quite a few players from last year’s team, and although Newcastle lost once again, 12-21 and 13-21, the squad looked better on the court than they had in the previous two matches.  


“We seemed to be more confident and played with more chemistry against Douglas,” Stanton said. “Despite the loss, the girls came off the court feeling a little better about how they played, and I think that helped to build a little more confidence for our girls.”


The 0-3 pool play record landed Newcastle in the Silver Bracket for Saturday’s action. Up first was Worland across the net. 


“Worland is pretty solid, and did the little things better than we did,” Stanton explained. “We were digging and covering better, but we still need to improve. We’re still a young team trying to adjust to varsity 3A volleyball.”


In looking at the final scores of the match, Worland appeared to be the team’s toughest opponent of the weekend as Newcastle dropped two sets, 8-21 and 7-21.


In the second game, the ladies faced off against Moorcroft, which was the third time the two teams had seen each other this season. Newcastle understood that the Lady Wolves are a scrappy team and are one that is never counted out until the whistle blows. 


“‘Learn and earn’ was one of our mottos throughout the weekend, and the other one was ‘just do.’ Don’t think about it, don’t worry about it, just go out and play,” Stanton described. “Our energy and confidence were good and we just put it to them. We were more aggressive, instead of falling into the tipping game, and setters did a good job of moving the ball around and good things happened.”

Good things did happen for Newcastle as they won the match in two sets, 22-20 and 21-18.


The win set them up to face Thermopolis

in the consolation match. Unfortunately, the end was not the result the team was hoping for as they dropped two consecutive sets, 19-21 and 20-22. 


“I was expecting a win, and we didn’t do anything bad, but we didn’t capitalize and we didn’t finish,” said Stanton. “We’d go on a run and then hit a lull, but they helped make us better and we learned from the match.”


The Lady Dogies will start conference play Friday at home against Glenrock, then will go to Buffalo on Saturday. Newcastle has played Glenrock twice this season and split with them. Buffalo is strong this year, returning a lot of really talented, veteran players, and they are coming out of the Rawlins tournament with the championship title. 


Action starts at 4 p.m. in the Dogie Dome on Friday with the C team, followed by the junior varsity match-up, with varsity action beginning at 7 p.m.


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