NEWCASTLE – The Lingle-Fort Laramie Lady Doggers head to the Class 1A State Volleyball Tournament this weekend as the No. 2 seed after coming up short in the fifth set of Saturday’s East Regional Tournament in Newcastle.
The top-seeded Lady Doggers rolled to a 25-16, 25-9. 25-16 win over the No. 4-seeded Midwest Oilers in the opening round of the tournament.
“We did very well against Midwest. I was a little worried with the 9 a.m. game,” L-FL coach Barb Clark said. “We played very cohesive.”
Senior Kaelyn Riley hit 69 percent in the win to lead the L-FL offensive attack.
Riley led the team with 11 kills, while Ashley Riley added eight. Jessy White dished out 30 assists.
Defensively, Kaelyn Riley and Jordan Hunt had three blocks each, while Hunt also had a team-high 11 digs.
In the semifinals, the Lady Doggers dropped the first set 25-21 to the Arvada-Clearmont Panthers but rattled off three straight set wins 25-19, 25-15, 25-16.
“We came out slow the first game but got things turned around and did fairly well the second, third and fourth games,” Clark said.
The fact the Lady Doggers were forced to go to a fourth set against the Panthers didn’t bother the L-FL coach.
“They were a good team and have improved a lot,” Clark said. “I was glad we went four games with them, so we couldn’t just walk through regionals like we have in the past. We played hard. We passed well. We didn’t serve as well as I would have liked to, but we were still able to get the win.”
Ashley Riley led the team with 16 kills, while Kaelyn Riley added 14. Kalli Nichol had 10. White handed out 47 assists.
Defensively, Kaelyn Riley led the team with 22 digs, while White added 19.
The victory advanced the Lady Doggers to the championship match against the top seed from the 1A Northeast quadrant, the Kaycee Lady Bucs.
In the championship match, the Lady Doggers got off to a slow start, falling 25-23, 25-20 in the first two sets.
“I thought we warmed up well,” Clark said. “The first two games, I don’t know, it might have been nerves. We didn’t play well the first two games. We didn’t pass well, therefore, we didn’t get the sets we needed to attack.”
L-FL ran into a very good blocking team in Kaycee, making things difficult for the Lady Dogger attack.
“Kaycee is a very good blocking team for no bigger than they are. It scared us. It was something we haven’t seen since playing Pine (Bluffs) or Southeast. We had to regroup.”
That was exactly what the Lady Doggers did as they bounced back to even the score with 25-20, 25-21 and force a fifth set.
“The third and fourth sets we played okay,” Clark said. “I still don’t know if we were at our very best, but we did improve enough to win those games.”
In the final set, Kaycee edged the Lady Doggers 15-12.
“The fifth game just came down to a couple calls,” Clark said. “Ashley Riley had a kill, but they called it a dig. There was a touch on a block they didn’t call. It was just little things like that. I understand that we shouldn’t be in a situation where those close calls are going to affect you, but they did.”
And as a result, the Lady Doggers came up short.
Jordyn Gaspers led the team with 16 kills, while Ashley Riley added 12.
Defensively, Hunt tallied a team-high 24 digs, while Kaelyn and Ashley Riley had two blocks each.
Despite the loss, L-FL (18-8) heads to the state tournament as the No. 2 seed from the East and will open the Class 1A State Tournament against Saratoga (20-4) at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Casper Events Center.
“It should be a pretty good match up for us. We saw them in Buffalo, and I think we match up well,” Clark said.
She is also looking forward to the later start time.
“We are going to go to school until about 1:30 p.m., so it will be more like a regular game. However, when you get in the bottom of that Events Center, there is nothing normal about that.”