LINGLE – The Southeast High School volleyball team wrapped up the regular season with wins over the Lingle-Fort Laramie Lady Doggers and the Glenrock Lady Herders, while L-FL topped Niobrara County to end the regular season on Saturday.
On Thursday, Southeast and Lingle met for the second time this season. Instead of having to overcome a 2-0 deficit to its cross-county rival, the Lady Cyclones put the Lady Doggers away in three, 25-16, 25-16, 25-11.
“We worked on staying positive and having a good attitude. Sometimes that can break a team apart and we were really focusing on that so that our skills can shine through,” Southeast coach Roxanne Jolovich said. “They did a great job, every single one of them. They played as a team. They did their job.”
Lingle held a slim lead early in each set before Southeast made a run to pull away.
“They get up and hit the ball very well and put a lot of big blocks up,” L-FL coach Barb Clark said. “I told the girls, you’ve probably played the team that will be in the state championship. We didn’t play as well as I would have liked to, but you can only do so much.”
In the first set, L-FL senior Kaylie Rafferty’s kill gave the Lady Doggers a 3-2 advantage, but Southeast senior Emma Short served up an ace giving the Lady Cyclones a 4-3 lead.
The teams swapped the lead two more times and were tied at four, seven and eight before Southeast started to pull away.
Leading 15-13, Southeast closed out the set on a 10-3 spurt.
In the second set, Lingle jumped out to a 5-3 lead behind two Southeast attack errors and a kill from junior Tiah Meyer, but much like the first set, the advantage didn’t last long.
An ace from junior Grace Desmond, kill from sophomore Shelby Ekwall and a block from sophomore Brenna Herring put the Lady Cyclones back in front and for good in the set.
In the third set, the Lady Doggers scored the first four points, but Southeast countered with a 10-0 run, sparked by kills from junior Jordan Stoddard and sophomore Kealy Carson.
“It’s hard to sit there and watch four points go by as a coach, but I trust my players,” Jolovich said. “I know we are going to turn it around. All it takes is one good pass and one good attack and that’s all it takes to get back in the game.”
Carson, Stoddard and Ekwall led the Lady Cyclones with six kills each, while Desmond and sophomore Sydney Anderson had five. Southeast had seven blocks, including three from Desmond and two from Herring. Anderson tallied a team-high 12 digs, while Herring had 13 assists.
Sophomore Kamryn Rafferty led the Lady Doggers with seven kills, while Meyer added five kills and two blocks. Freshman Natalie Speckner served up the team’s lone ace, and sophomore Baylee Skinner had a team-high 14 digs and 16 aces.
The next day, the Lady Cyclones swept Glenrock 25-19, 25-13, 25-17.
Carson led the team with 10 kills and two aces, while Anderson added seven kills. Desmond and Herring added two aces apiece. Stoddard had four of the team’s eight blocks.
Southeast will host the 1A Southeast Quadrant Tournament at Willi Gym in Torrington on Thursday.
The top-seeded Lady Cyclones will play at 2 p.m. against Rock River. With a win, Southeast will play for the quadrant championship at 6:15 p.m. against the winner of Lingle-Fort Laramie and Hanna-Elk Mountain.
“There is no lose one and you get to play your way back,” Jolovich said. “You have to win all the way through. I know we’ll be on top of our game and make it as far as we can.”
Lingle sweeps Lady Tigers
On Saturday afternoon, the Lady Doggers wanted to put a little momentum on their side heading into the 1A Regionals this week, and L-FL wrapped up the season with a 26-24, 26-24, 25-22 sweep of Niobrara County.
“Lusk is a scrappy little team. They chase a lot of stuff down. I thought we served very well. I thought we had some better hitting than we’ve seen,” Clark said. “Tonight was great. I thought we did what we needed to do. At least we didn’t lay down and let them win those.”
In all three sets, L-FL had to battle from deficits.
In the opening set, Lusk led 24-21 before Meyer’s kill sparked a late rally. It was the start of five straight points for the Lady Doggers to close out the set.
The second was very similar.
Lingle was trailing 24-22, and Skinner served up three consecutive aces to push L-FL to a 2-0 lead.
“She doesn’t get tight about it. She doesn’t try to do more with her serves than she knows she can,” Clark said. “She’s at a perfect height to put the ball low on the net and serve it hard. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her frazzled. Those are huge because it gets the rest of the girls believing they can.”
In the final set, the Lady Tigers scored the first two points before Skinner served up another ace to tie the match at two. A double hit by Lusk propelled Lingle to a 6-3 advantage, but the visitors battled back to take an 11-7 lead.
Lingle-Fort Laramie used a 9-1 run, capped off by a pair of Speckner aces to gain control of the set.
The Lady Doggers never trailed for the remainder of the match to close out the sweep.
Meyer led the team with six kills, while Speckner and Kaylie Rafferty added five each. Speckner also had a game-high 24 digs, and Skinner tallied a team-high five aces and 21 assists.
“We’ve come a long way. it hasn’t been the season any of us wanted, but we’ve got to play and that was half the battle with COVID,” Clark said.
The Lady Doggers will open postseason play against Hanna-Elk Mountain at 4 p.m. in Torrington.
“We are going to have to pass well off that server and block her in the front row,” Clark said. “There is no one ahead of anyone. We’ll go in and play ball.”