CASPER – The Southeast High School volleyball team capped off the 2021 season with a 3-1 trip to the Class 1A State Volleyball Championships in Casper over the weekend, winning the consolation championship to finish third.
“We worked really hard this weekend, and especially our seniors, Grace (Desmond) and Jordan (Stoddard) showed up and played the games of their lives,” Southeast coach Roxanne Jolovich said.
The top seeded Lady Cyclones opened the weekend with a sweep of the Saratoga Lady Panthers on Thursday afternoon.
Southeast raced out to a 14-1 lead in the opening set en route to a 25-14, 25-21, 25-12 victory over the Lady Panthers.
A serving ace by junior Brenna Herring and a block point by senior Jordan Stoddard set the tone during the early run for the Lady Cyclones.
However, Saratoga wasn’t going to go away.
They chipped away at the deficit, including a pair of ace serves. The West’s No. 4 seed cut the Southeast lead to as few as 17-11 before junior Sydney Anderson put the set away with a kill.
In the second set, it was much closer. Neither team held more than a two-point advantage until late in the set.
Southeast trailed 13-10, but coming out of a timeout, senior Grace Desmond served up an ace, sparking a rally to go back in front for good. Southeast took the lead for good at 15-14, pushing its lead to as many as five late in the set.
In the third set, Southeast jumped out to a double-digit lead at 14-3, cruising to the sweep.
Anderson led the Lady Cyclones with eight kills, while Stoddard and Herring had six apiece. Sophomore Baylie Booth led the team with three aces and nine assists. On the defensive side of the net, Stoddard tallied five blocks, while Herring had three. Herring also had 12 digs, and Desmond had 11.
The win advanced the Lady Cyclones to the semifinal round to face the Kaycee Lady Buckaroos.
The match went back-and-forth, but by the end of the contest, the Lady Buckaroos topped Southeast, 3-1 (31-29, 19-25, 25-21, 25-17).
“It was an extremely competitive game,” Jolovich said. “It was some of the best volleyball both Kaycee and Southeast have played all season long and probably in all of 1A all season. Sad it had to be when it was, but both teams played hard.”
The loss dropped the Lady Cyclones to the consolation side of the bracket, while Kaycee advanced to the championship game, ultimately defeating Cokeville for the 1A state championship on Saturday.
Stoddard led the team with 13 kills, while Anderson had 11. Desmond and Herring tallied two aces each, while Booth dished out 20 assists. Stoddard had seven blocks, while Herring had six and Desmond five.
With the loss, the Lady Cyclones faced elimination against the Lingle-Fort Laramie Doggers on Saturday morning with the winner advancing to the third-place match.
“I told the girls at the beginning, we had to focus on one ball at a time, one game at a time, one match at a time, one team at a time before we looked ahead,” Jolovich said.
Trailing 3-2 in the opening set, Southeast used a 10-1 run to pull away from its cross-county rival.
In the second set, the Lady Doggers grabbed an early 9-4 lead behind kills from senior Tiah Meyer and freshman Brenly Shipp.
A block by Herring slowed the Lingle momentum, and a few points later, back-to-back attack errors by the Lady Doggers tied the match at 11 apiece.
On the next point, Stoddard tallied one of her three blocks to put Southeast back in front.
It was a lead which the Lady Cyclones never surrendered for the remainder of the set.
In the third set, Lingle grabbed an early 2-1 lead behind an attack error and a kill from Shipp, but Southeast scored eight of the next nine points as the Lady Cyclones pulled away for the 12-point win and the sweep.
Herring led Southeast with 11 kills and 12 assists, while Anderson had seven kills. Booth served three aces. Stoddard had three blocks, while Herring had two.
The loss ended the Lady Dogger season and guaranteeing the Lady Cyclones a chance to play for third place on Saturday afternoon.
In the final match of the season, Southeast swept the No. 2 seed from the West, the Little Snake River Lady Rattlers, 25-18 25-18, 25-8.
Jolovich stressed control to her team No. 2-ranked team in the state.
“We always have to have control over the ball and what we do,” she said.
The Rattlers led 9-7 early in the first set, but a kill from Herring and a block from Stoddard put Southeast in front 10-9.
The coach wanted to allow the team no more than two consecutive serves before the Lady Cyclones took back control of the serve.
“It worked,” Jolovich said.
The Lady Cyclones never trailed for the remainder of the match.
Anderson led the team with eight kills, while Stoddard added seven and Desmond six. Anderson and Stoddard also had four blocks each, while Anderson also recorded a team-high 14 digs. Herring dished out 14 assists.
The Lady Cyclones ended the season with a 22-11 record, marking the end of the volleyball careers of Desmond and Stoddard.
“They’ve meant a lot (to Southeast), Jolovich said. “They’ve worked extremely hard and want to do well for their team. They wanted to continuously improve over the season. They did that. You always want to peak at tournament time, and at state is when they both peaked. They were both hitting and blocking the best they ever have. Grace and Jordan will be greatly missed.”