CASPER – The Lingle-Fort Laramie Lady Doggers wrapped up the 2021 season with a 1-2 trip to the Class 1A State Volleyball Tournament in Casper last weekend.
The team’s lone win came on Friday in a lengthy sweep of Meeteetse, while the Lady Doggers fell to Cokeville in the opening round on Thursday evening and was eliminated by Southeast on Saturday morning.
On Thursday, the East’s No. 4 seeded Lady Doggers faced the top seed and No. 1-ranked Cokeville Lady Panthers.
For two of the three sets, LFL went toe-to-toe with Cokeville in the 25-16, 25-13, 25-18 loss.
“The Cokeville game, we had a lot of young girls because we weren’t here last year, and they would have been freshmen and sophomores and wouldn’t have seen a lot of court time,” LFL coach Barb Clark said. “This is a huge center. We were very nervous against Cokeville.”
The Lady Panthers grabbed an early 3-1 in the opening set, Lingle scored four of the next five points. Three of those points were off errors by the Lady Panthers.
The teams traded the lead over the next few points as Cokeville’s lead reached 8-6. Lingle battled back again, and following kills from seniors Tiah Meyer and M’Lynn Hill, the Lady Doggers found themselves back in front 11-9.
Cokeville scored the next six points as the Lady Panthers pulled away for the set one win.
In the second set, sophomore Natalie Speckner’s kill put the Lady Doggers in front 3-2.
It was a short-lived lead as Cokeville went on an 8-3 spurt.
Freshman Brenly Shipp’s block only temporarily slowed the run as the Lady Panthers pulled away for the 12-point set win.
In the third, a pair of attack errors by Cokeville and a Meyer kill gave Lingle an early lead, but like in the previous sets, the Lady Panthers pulled away late in the set for the sweep.
Cokeville went on to reach the 1A state title game and finishing runner-up at the state tournament.
“If we played Cokeville like we played Upton [at regionals], we could have taken them to five, if not beat them,” Clark said.
The loss dropped the Lady Doggers to a must-win match on Friday against the Meeteetse Lady Longhorns.
Lingle pulled off a 3-0 sweep, but it took the Lady Doggers extra points in each set to survive and advance.
“We came back and got Meeteetse. We played well,” Clark said. “We were down at times, but we stuck with it. The 25 points didn’t mean anything to us as we had to go extra.”
LFL won the opening set 28-26 and the next two sets 27-25.
At one point during the match, Lingle trailed, 21-13.
“They acted like it was no big deal and started chipping away. They didn’t act scared. They stayed calm and had great attitudes,” Clark said. “We had to fight. Outside of the Upton game, it was one of our better played games.”
The win advanced the Lady Doggers to the consolation semifinal round against the Southeast Lady Cyclones.
Southeast lost in the semifinals to eventual state champion Kaycee, and the loss dropped the Lady Cyclones to an elimination game against LFL with the winner moving on to play for third place.
With Lingle leading 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 Meyer and Shipp.
A block by Southeast junior Brenna 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.
“We can’t make Southeast be any team other but Southeast. It’s hard to play them when you know them, and we haven’t had our best games against Southeast. We can’t get that out of our heads,” Clark said. “There is no reason for us to hang our heads. People didn’t think we’d get out of regionals. We had to play the pigtail game to get to regionals and came out of there fourth.”
The loss ended the Lady Dogger season and guaranteeing the Lady Cyclones a chance to play for third place on Saturday afternoon.
“I hope this is the start of things to come,” Clark said. “Natalie had 14 kills, and Brenly wasn’t too far behind [against Meeteetse]. They did a nice job. There attitudes are so alive. It’s huge.”
Lingle’s season ended with a 13-19 record and marked the end of the careers of three seniors – Meyer, Hill and Maddie Heilbrun. The season’s end also marked the end of LFL’s run in Class 1A as the team will move up to 2A starting in the fall of 2022.
“M’Lynn Hill has stepped it up big time. She has done a great job of not getting down. In the huddle, she’s always positive. Maddie could have walked away a long time ago. She knew what her job was, and she’s done great job cheering. Tiah has been a great leader all the way through. She plays tough all the time,” Clark said. “They’ve been great leaders and will be sorely missed.”