CASPER – As is the case every season, the Southeast Lady Cyclones goal is to play their best volleyball at the state tournament.
It’s something which Southeast coach Roxanne Jolovich and her team discussed at the begging of the year, and she felt her team did just that.
“They worked hard all season long to be playing volleyball here at state tournament,” Jolovich said. “That is the goal every year.”
The Lady Cyclone ended the Class 2A State Tournament the way it began – with a win over the Greybull Buffaloes.
In the opening round, the No. 4-seeded Lady Cyclones topped No. 1-seeded Greybull 25-19, 25-18, 25-18.
Neither team through the first two sets struggled to put any distance between them.
Through the first set and until late in the second set, neither team held more than a four-point advantage.
Late in the second set, Southeast trailed 15-12, but a block from sophomore Joycelynn Hottell sparked a rally where the Lady Cyclones went on a 12-1 run.
In the end, a kill opportunity by Greybull ended up in the net, handing Southeast a 25-18 win.
In the third set, Schmitt set the tone with an ace as the Lady Cyclone lead ballooned to as many as 10 en route to a three-set sweep of the Buffaloes.
Senior Hailey Anderson led the Southeast attack with 17 digs, 14 kills, two blocks and an ace. Schmitt added 14 kills, 12 assists and nine digs. Senior Macie Murphy tallied 13 digs, while freshman Marjie Schmitt had 14 digs and 12 assists.
The win advanced the Lady Cyclones to the semifinal round against conference-foe Pine Bluffs.
For the first three sets of the match, it was a back-and-forth battle with Pine Bluffs wining the first two sets 25-23, 25-22.
In the third set, an attack error by the Lady Hornets gave Southeast a 1-0 lead. It was a lead the Lady Cyclones never surrendered in a 25-21 win, forcing a fourth set.
Southeast looked to keep the momentum going into the next set as Anderson smashed a kill to give her team the early lead.
However, it was short-lived as Pine Bluffs responded with a 6-0 run and limited the Lady Cyclones to only nine more points the remainder of the match.
Anderson tallied 12 kills, 10 digs and six aces, while Ellie Schmitt added 11 kills and 10 digs.
The loss dropped Southeast to Saturday morning’s consolation semifinal with the winner heading to the third-place match.
For the second straight match, the Lady Cyclones faced a conference opponent. This time, it was the Glenrock Lady Herders.
For the third time in 2018, Southeast swept Glenrock, picking up a 25-16, 25-19, 25-22 win to advance to once again face Greybull.
In the win, Anderson had 18 kills, while Ellie Schmitt had 15 digs. Junior Morgan Ekwall added seven digs and three aces.
In the rematch of the opening round 1-4 match, Southeast once again got the better of the Buffaloes.
This time, it was a greater challenge for the Lady Cyclones in the 3-1 win.
Southeast never trailed in the opening set win, 25-16.
Greybull bounced back to take set two 25-22 after leading all but the first point of the set.
In the final two sets, the Lady Cyclones jumped out to a 6-1 and 6-0 leads, but in both sets, the Buffaloes battled back.
In the third set, Greybull chipped away at the deficit until they tied the score at 23 apiece.
The Buffaloes never saw the lead as Southeast scored three of the final four points to win 26-24.
It was much the same story in the fourth set.
After grabbing a six-point advantage, Greybull answered with a 9-2 run to grab a 9-8 lead.
From that point, the teams found themselves tied on eight occasions and swapped the lead three times over the remainder of the set.
Ellie Schmitt recorded one of her team-high 19 kills to put the Lady Cyclones in front for good at 29-28.
Southeast polished off the Buffaloes on the next point, securing third place in the Class 2A State Tournament.
Anderson added 16 kills, 23 digs and three blocks, while Schmitt added 19 digs, 19 assists and four aces.
“The girls fought hard and they never gave up,” Jolovich said. “They knew they had to count on their teammates and play together. That’s what they did.”
The Lady Cyclones ended the 2018 season with a 22-11 record.
“I’m really proud of these girls and proud of the way they played all season long,” Jolovich said. “We’ve had obstacles. We’ve talked about how you come out of those obstacles and how you come out of those losses are determines a lot of your future. They came out and positive and came out trusting their teammates more than they did before. It really helped.”
It was also the final volleyball game for handful of Southeast seniors.
“These seniors have been amazing,” Jolovich said. “They have played together for a really long time and stuck with each other all the way through. Each one played a different role on the team. No two had the same role and everyone fulfilled that role this weekend.”