Lady Bulldogs take second at tournament

Teams from Shoshoni, Burlington, Rocky Mountain, Meeteetse, Greybull and Ten Sleep joined two teams from Lovell (varsity and junior varsity) for two days of early season volleyball action at a tournament hosted by the Lady Bulldogs at Lovell High School Aug. 24-25.

The varsity girls from Lovell began their pool play with games against Meeteetse, Ten Sleep and Burlington on Friday.

“We had a pretty easy pool on Friday,” said Coach Stormy Jameson. “We were the only 2A team in our pool against 1A teams.”

Jameson took advantage of the opportunity to try out several different rotations. It was a chance to see what works and what doesn’t, said Jameson.

The Lovell girls easily outscored Meeteetse 25-12 and 25-9 in the first game and Ten Sleep 25-7 and 25-7. Burlington gave the girls some resistance in the first match but the Lovell girls prevailed 25-23 and 25-18.

Lady Bulldog Emilee Reasch tips the ball over the net, while Maddie Baxendale watches during a battle against the Shoshoni team at the North Big Horn County Tournament on Aug. 25.

On Saturday, the girls warmed up in the first match of the day against their own JV team, winning 25-18 and 25-15.

“Since we usually scrimmage with those girls during practice, we know them pretty well,” said Jameson. “We came out and made quite a few errors that shouldn’t have happened, and the other Lovell team took advantage of them. That game really woke us up and made us realize we needed to pick it up.”

Their second game was against local rivals the Lady Grizz from Rocky Mountain High School. The Grizz came out fighting hard and in spite of having four key players on the bench won the first game 25-21. This was a wake-up call for the Lovell girls, who responded by pounding the Lady Grizz in the next two games 25-13 and 15-6.

“Rocky took a set from us,” said Jameson. “They came out ready to play and we didn’t. I think it kind of woke up our girls.”

The biggest challenge of the weekend presented itself in the battle for first place against Shoshoni. Shoshoni proved the stronger team, winning 25-18 and 25-18, allowing them to walk away from the tournament undefeated and with first-place honors.

“We knew that Shoshoni would be a really good team because they were good last year and have only lost one player since then,” explained Jameson. “They play the same style of defense that we do and they just have more experience. They are very energetic and they just came out and beat us.”

The Lady Bulldogs took second, Burlington third, Rocky fourth, Meeteetse fifth, Greybull sixth, Lovell JV seventh and Ten Sleep eighth.

Jameson thought the team showed potential throughout the tournament but has a few things to work on.

“We need to get to a higher level of consistency,” she said.

Sophomore Emilee Reasch had the most kills for the weekend with 42. She had 10 blocks and 12 aces, which was more than anyone else on the team.

“When Emilee is on our front row, we are in our strongest rotations,” said Jameson.

Senior Chelsey Ellis was on the court the entire time for every game of the tournament. She had 30 kills, 3 blocks and the team high in digs at 61.

Senior Megan McClure, the team’s setter, had 79 assists, 26 digs and 11 aces.

“Chelsey and Megan are our team captains and they both had good solid tournaments,” said Jameson.

Lauren Hinckley and Mercedes Haney both got their first taste of varsity experience as outside hitters in the tournament. Jameson said she thought they both did a good job considering they hadn’t played varsity before.

Hinckley had 10 kills and Haney had 14. Maddie Baxendale, a right side hitter, also had 10 kills.

Senior Shyann Wilske was the team’s libero. Jameson said she thought Wilske did a good job on defense with 42 digs. Jameson is generally pleased with her progress so far. Wilske was the JV team setter last year and played some back row for the varsity team.

“One of the things we need to work on is our serve receive and passing when the other team is serving at us,” said Jameson. “We need to be more accurate and we struggle sometimes to get our setter in a good position to make a good set.”

Jameson thought the team served very well. She noted that the team served 309 times over the weekend and only missed 15. She thought that was a good team percentage.

“Just going from practice for the last two weeks to getting some actual game experience was a good thing for us,” said Jameson. “It was good to be able to try a few different things before our first conference game of the season.”

The girls will face off with Greybull tonight (Thursday) for their first conference game of the season in Greybull with game times at 4 p.m. for freshmen, 5 p.m. for JV and 6 p.m. for varsity.

The girls will also play in the Wyoming-Montana Duals in Billings on Friday and Saturday at Rocky Mountain College. On Friday, Lovell will take on Sidney, Mont. at 2:45 p.m., Billings Central at 4 p.m. and Hardin at 7:30 p.m. The schedule on Saturday is based on how teams play on Friday.

“The Border Wars tournament is always a good one because we get to play teams that we wouldn’t otherwise play,” said Jameson.

By Patti Carpenter