CASPER – The Southeast High School volleyball team saved its best for last.
On Wednesday, the No. 3-seeded Lady Cyclones took to the Casper Events Center for the one-day Class 1A State Tournament.
Southeast opened day with the only setback of the event, falling 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 14-25, 25-17, 15-13) to the Meeteetse Lady Longhorns, the eventual state runners-up.
“Today started out a little rough, but we ended it the best way we could end the season,” coach Roxanne Jolovich said. “After working hard all season long, we ended the season with a win and playing some of our best volleyball. It may not have started that way, but we definitely ended the day on top. I’m proud of how the girls played.”
In the opening set, neither team led by more than three-point advantage throughout.
Meeteetse held a 12-9 lead, but after a Southeast timeout, the Lady Cyclones made a run, taking a 17-14 lead following a junior Jordan Stoddard block. The set was tied at 17, 18 and 22 before Southeast scored the final three points of the set.
In the second, the Lady Longhorns grabbed an early 4-1 lead. Senior Emma Short tied the set at six with an ace. The set remained tied until a four-hit possession by Meeteetse put Southeast in front for the first time in the set at 14-13.
The lead was short-lived, and after back-to-back attack errors, the Lady Longhorns went in front for good to tie the match at one.
In the third, a serving error by Meeteetse set the tone for the rest of the set for Southeast.
A pair of kills by sophomore Sydney Anderson kept the Southeast lead growing. The Lady Cyclone lead reached as many as 20-11 as Southeast regained the match lead.
In the fourth, the Lady Cyclones looked to keep the momentum on their side, scoring the first three points, but a 9-2 run by Meeteetse quickly killed the momentum, forcing a fifth set.
Much like the fourth, in the fifth, Southeast scored the first two points, but a 6-1 Lady Longhorn run slowed the Lady Cyclones. Southeast tied the match at nine but never saw the lead again for the remainder of the opening-round loss.
“We went back and forth with Meeteetse. It could have gone either way,” Jolovich said. “Some of the balls didn’t fall our way at critical points in the game. It changed our mindset a little and it had an effect.”
Anderson led the team with 11 kills, and Stoddard had 10. The Lady Cyclones served up a total of eight aces, including three from Short and two from junior Grace Desmond.
On the defensive side of the net, Southeast had seven blocks, including three from Stoddard and two apiece from sophomore Brenna Herring and Desmond. The Lady Cyclones had five players record double-figure digs, led by senior Becca Foos with 24 and Anderson with 21.
An hour after seeing their state championship hopes dashed, Southeast returned to the court against the Burlington Lady Huskies.
“We went to the locker room after that first match, and I told the girls, you have until you leave the locker room to be sad,” Jolovich said. “The idea of winning a state championship is gone. After that, you have to move on and be ready to finish the day.”
That’s exactly what the team did.
The Lady Cyclones turned up the pressure on the West regionals No. 4 seeded team en route to a 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-15) victory.
In the first two sets, Burlington appeared up the challenge, taking 6-3 and 4-1 leads, but a kill by Anderson in the first set and a pair of kills by sophomore Kealy Carson in the second shifted the momentum back in Southeast’s favor.
Stoddard’s kill to open the final set the tone for the remainder of the match. The victory pushed the Lady Cyclones through to the fifth-place match.
Carson led the team with 12 kills, while Anderson tallied 11. Short served up a team-high five aces, while Foos led the team with 14 digs. Herring had 19 assists, and Carson added 16.
The final match of the day for Southeast featured a rematch from Saturday’s cross-quadrant tournament with the Upton Lady Bobcats.
In the first meeting, Upton got the best of Southeast, but the Lady Cyclones weren’t going to let that happen again in a 3-0 (25-11, 25-8, 27-25) victory.
“It was really nice to come back and play Upton again after how we played against them last Saturday (at regionals),” Jolovich said. “We were a totally different team than the score showed.”
With the match tied at seven, Southeast blew the match open, scoring the next 14 points.
In the second set, the Lady Cyclones kept right on rolling, scoring the first six point en route to the 17-point win.
In the third set, Upton wasn’t going to go away quietly, scoring the first seven points, forcing Southeast to use a timeout.
Stoddard put the Lady Cyclones on the scoreboard with a block, and Southeast chipped away at the deficit for the remainder of the set.
A Lady Bobcat error tied the match at 20, and Desmond’s ace put her team in front 21-20.
The teams traded points, but it was Desmond’s kill who finished off the victory for the Lady Cyclones.
Desmond’s final kill of the game was her ninth of the game, while Carson and Stoddard added six apiece. Carson tallied three aces, and Desmond two. Southeast had a total of 12 blocks in the match, including five from Stoddard and three from Herring.
The state tournament also marked the end of the careers for a three Lady Cyclones – Short, Becca Foos and Carly Keller.
“We will definitely miss all of them. Carly was a huge talker on our team. Very inspirational. Very positive the entire team. Becca and Emma will be missed in the back row, defensively and on serve receive. They are also good, consistent servers, as well,” Jolovich said. “We have a lot of our front row coming back. Our setter is coming back. On the back row, we are going to have to find someone to step up in those positions.”
Southeast finished the season 20-5.
“I’m proud of the way the girls ended the season,” Jolovich said. “They came back and did everything we worked on all season in practice and in games and put it all together in the last match this season.”