Renegades, Huskies advance to volleyball divisionals
The volleyball postseason was in full swing last week as teams from across the county battled at district tournaments to earn a place at divisionals. Stillwater teams saw mixed results.
The RPR Renegades entered the 4C district tournament in Absarokee seeded third, and the team improved, finishing in second place.
Thursday afternoon, the Renegades began the tournament with a three-game win over the Plenty Coups Lady Warriors. The win set up a rematch between RPR and the Custer-Hysham Rebels Thursday evening.
In the regular season, the Renegades fell to the Rebels twice, but RPR did not let past performances dictate postseason play.
In the first set, RPR came out with an energy that propelled the team past an unenthusiastic Custer-Hysham squad, 25-12. The second set was closer, but RPR held the lead with a 25-21 win.
The third set was the most exciting set of the tournament’s first day. RPR held the lead for the first half of the set, but in the second half, the lead went back and forth.
One team would pull ahead, and the other would tie it back up after long volleys back and forth. This pattern forced the game to go past the regulation 25 points, as the winner must win by two. RPR emerged victorious with a 30-28 score.
Senior Destiny Ayers had a great performance, putting up 16 kills, nine digs, and three aces. Junior Mercedes Hoff contributed seven digs, and sophomore Carlee Blodgett had 2.5 blocks. Senior Nynah Bryant earned 15 assists.
Friday evening, RPR dropped its first match of the tournament to the one-seeded Bridger Scouts in three games. The loss sent the Renegades down to the losers’ side of the bracket, leading to a rematch with Custer-Hysham Saturday morning.
RPR proved Thursday’s win was not a fluke by winning the close five-set match. With the win, the Renegades moved on to the championship to face Bridger once again.
While RPR fell in three games, the margins by which the renegades lost were smaller than Friday’s match. With the loss, RPR finished the tournament in second place, and Bridger took the top spot.
Blodgett played well, leading the team with nine digs, eight kills, and two blocks. Ayers also put up nine digs, and Hoff earned three aces. Junior Jocelyn Ott had 10 assists.
Coach Teresa Bare said her team is playing well right now, mentioning RPR’s strong showing against Custer-Hysham.
The 4C district sends four teams to the divisional tournament, so the Renegades earned the opportunity to play for another week with the second place finish.
RPR is slated to face Harlowton first on Thursday at 4 p.m. in Laurel.
Bare said the team is focused on divisionals and is excited to face Harlowton.
During the Park City Invitational at the beginning of October, RPR beat Harlowton during bracket play.
A win will pit RPR against the winner of the Roy-Winifred vs. Absarokee game for the Thursday night game.
The Huskies began the tournament with a 3-1 victory over the Roberts Rockets on Thursday evening.
Absarokee breezed through the first two games, winning 25-10 and 25-15.
Roberts showed a spark during the third game, leading for the first half. The Huskies came back from a 19-14 deficit to tie the game at 21. The next few points went back and forth, with the Rockets eventually coming out on top 27-25.
The fourth game went as the first two did, with Absarokee marching to a 25-10 victory.
Several Huskies contributed to the team’s success. Senior Emma LaMoure and junior Mallorey Sheppard led the ace category with six each. LaMoure and fellow senior Rebecka Lester each put up 18 digs, together accounting for a little over one-third of the team’s 92 digs.
Sheppard and sophomore Kennedy Ekwortzel each had three blocks, and Ekwortzel put down six kills. Senor Caitlin Young led with eight assists.
The win over Roberts set Absarokee up against Bridger Thursday night. The Scouts won the match and sent the Huskies to the losers’ side of the bracket.
Friday afternoon Absarokee won a loser-out match against Plenty Coups 3-1. In the evening, the Huskies faced-off against Custer-Hysham.
The Rebels had all of the momentum in the first two games, with Absarokee falling 25-16 and 25-9. The Huskies fought back in the third game, tying the score at 18 points. Custer-Hysham found a rhythm, though, and Absarokee fell 25-18.
LaMoure again had a good performance, leading the team with 16 digs, seven assists, and two aces. Sheppard also contributed two aces, as well as 13 digs and the team’s only block. Ekwortzel once again led in kills, with seven, and Young put up six assists.
The loss to Custer-Hysham sealed Absarokee’s fate at fourth place in the tournament, keeping true to the fourth-seed ranking going into the tournament. The fourth place finish is good for a trip to the divisional tournament.
Coach Tonya Steffenson felt the team did not perform its best, so she’s hoping the girls will be able to “step it up a notch” for divisionals.
“All the ability is there, having it come together all at once – that has been our achilles,” she explained.
Absarokee is slated to play Roy-Winifred on Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.
A couple weeks ago, the Huskies fell to the Outlaws 3-1 during the last game of the regular season.
Steffenson said Absarokee has faced every team but one that will be at divisionals, so the team is excited to know what they will be facing this week and how to prepare for success.
A win against Roy-Winifred will see the Huskies play in the Thursday night game against RPR or Harlowton.
The district tournament began for the Panthers with a match against second-seeded Custer-Hysham.
Park City started out the first set strong, scoring nine points before the Rebels could even put one on the board. Custer-Hysham began to come back, but the Panthers maintained the lead, winning 25-17.
The second game was close, and while Park City had more energy than the Rebels, the Panthers fell 25-15.
Custer-Hysham dominated the third game, winning 25-7. Park City did not give up, though, keeping game four close in the first half. The Rebels pulled away in the second part of the game, winning the game 25-17.
Junior Blakely Verke led the team in assists (13), digs (9), aces (4), and blocks (3). Alyx Grabowska, a junior, and senior Brittany Frank paired for the most kills, putting up six and five, respectively.
The loss Thursday sent Park City to a loser-out match against Plenty Coups Friday morning.
Both teams were evenly matched, as was evident by the long, competitive volleys that characterized each set.
The first set was close, with the lead changing throughout. The Panthers won with a score of 29-27 after the game exceeded the regulation score. The second set was another barn-burner, with Park City coming back to tie the game at 19 after being down 15-8. Plenty Coups was able to hold on for the 25-22 win, though.
Plenty Coups had a slight lead for the first part of the third set, but Park City came back at the perfect time, winning 25-23. The Lady Warriors forced a fifth set after winning the fourth set 25-17.
As with the fourth set, the last set was led by Plenty Coups. Park City fell 15-8, ending the Panthers’ trip to the postseason.
In the final game of the season, seven players contributed to Park City’s efforts. Verke put up all of the team’s 26 assists. Grabowska led with three blocks, and junior Kasidy Robbins had 14 digs. Frank and sophomore Hayley Story each put up four aces. The kills category was led by two juniors – Andee Baker and Arica Hedges – each with seven.
Coach Kate Cristaldi described the tournament as “tough,” specifically mentioning inconsistent momentum in the Custer-Hysham game and serving errors against Plenty Coups.
Despite the issues the team faced, Cristaldi said the Panthers continued to work hard, and she believes the team knows what to work on, and the players will be motivated for next season after seeing their potential at districts this year.
As for the season as a whole, Cristaldi said the team knew this season would be a building year, so the goal was to improve and gain knowledge and experience for next year.
She felt the team did improve throughout the year, and also gained insights on the mental aspect of the game, making this season a success.
The Cougars traveled to Huntley for the 4B district tournament last week.
Columbus faced Roundup in the first game of the tournament Friday morning. The competition between the two teams during the regular season was close, and the tournament match-up did not disappoint.
In the first set, the Cougars came out slow, losing 25-15. The team made some adjustments, though, and flipped the score for the second set, winning 25-16.
The third and fourth sets were very close, but the Cougars did not come out on top in either, losing 25-23 and 25-22.
Had Columbus been able to hold on for the win in the third game, Cougar Coach Lindsey Johnson believes the outcome of the match could have changed.
Junior Morgan Kirch had a good match, scoring eight kills and six aces. Three seniors also led the team – Uluwehi Brooks in assists (15), McCamey Miller in digs (14), and Maddi Carmen in blocks (1.5).
The loss against Roundup set the Cougars up to play a tough Red Lodge team in a loser-out game Friday night.
Columbus fell in three games, but the match was the closest between the two teams all season, with scores of 25-19, 25-21, and 25-19.
Four Cougars led the team Friday night – Kirch, with 11 digs and the team’s three aces; Carmen, with six kills; Brooks, with eight assists; and sophomore Brenna Rouane, with the team’s two blocks.
Johnson said the girls fought the entire match and never gave up.
Despite ending the season earlier than they had hoped, Johnson said the team can be proud of this year’s accomplishments. The overall record of 6-18 was an improvement upon years past, and the team competed well in close games during districts.
The team’s motto for the season, according to Johnson, was: “Breathe (be in the moment), Believe (have faith that we can accomplish what we set our minds to), and Battle (leave it all on the court).”
Johnson felt the team accomplished all of those goals at the end of the season.
The team appreciated all of the fan support throughout the season, as well as the band and cheerleaders for cheering on the team at districts, Johnson said.
- RPR def. Plenty Coups: 25-17, 25-20, 25-18
- RPR def. Custer-Hysham: 25-12, 25-21, 30-28
- Bridger def. RPR: 25-13, 25-5, 25-19
- RPR def. Custer-Hysham: 25-19, 26-28, 15-25, 25-18, 16-14
- Bridger def. RPR: 25-13, 25-18, 25-19
- Absarokee def. Roberts: 25-10, 25-15, 25-27, 25-10
- Bridger def. Absarokee: 25-11, 25-7, 25-22
- Absarokee def. Plenty Coups: 25-15, 21-25, 25-8, 25-17
- Custer-Hysham def. Absarokee: 25-16, 25-9, 25-18
- Custer-Hysham def. Park City: 17-25, 25-15, 25-7, 25-17
- Plenty Coups def. Park City: 27-29, 25-22, 23-25, 25-17,15-8
- Roundup def. Columbus: 25-15, 16-25, 25-23, 25-22
- Red Lodge def. Columbus: 25-19, 25-21, 25-19