Valiant play at State for Lady Bulldogs

Though their competition took down the Lady Bulldogs at State 3A championship volleyball games this week it wasn’t without a tremendous fight that won them the respect they deserve in the 3A division.

Lady Bulldog hitter Emilee Reasch slams a ball past a blocker on the Worland team during a hard-fought game on Friday at the State 3A volleyball tournament held in Casper.
Lady Bulldog hitter Emilee Reasch slams a ball past a blocker on the Worland team during a hard-fought game on Friday at the State 3A volleyball tournament held in Casper.

The girls traveled to Casper on Thursday to take on the Lady Outlaws from Rawlins, the No. 1 seed from the east side of the state, where they kept fans on the edge of their seats for five thrilling sets. The Lovell girls came out strong, winning the first two sets 25-23 and 25-14.  The Lady Outlaws bounced back in the last three sets, prevailing 25-15, 25-23 and 15-5.

“Going into Thursday evenings game, we knew that we were going to have to play great volleyball in order to beat the No. 1 seeded Rawlins, and that’s exactly what we came out and did the first two sets,” said Coach Stormy Jameson.

The girls were building the kind of momentum that looked like it could lead to an upset when the girls from Rawlins regained their composure and took the lead back.

“We looked to be cruising to victory before the Outlaws had different plans and came back to rally in the last three sets,” said Jameson. “That’s the type of game that is an absolute heartbreaker. To be that close and know that it could have happened is always a hard pill to swallow. I felt we played good enough to have won that game, though a couple of points didn’t fall our way in the end.”

Emilee Reasch led the team with 23 kills, 3 blocks and 23 digs. Savanna Savage had 9 kills and a dig. Mykelle Nichols had 11 kills, 20 digs and an ace. Chayli McArthur had 4 kills, 1 block, 13 digs, an ace and 2 assists. Karlie Keller had 4 kills, 21 digs and an ace. Lauren Hinckley held down the back row with 16 digs and an assist. And setter Charri McArthur had 2 kills, a block, 17 digs and 44 assists.

Losing against Rawlins put the girls in a match against Worland the next day. Worland is the only team they had not played during the earlier part of the season. The teams seemed evenly matched at the outset and again provided fans with what Jameson described as a “five-set thriller.”

“This whole match was back and forth and I feel could have gone either way,” said Jameson.

The teams exchanged set wins, with Lovell taking the first set 25-18, Worland the second at 25-22, then Lovell again at 27-25 and Worland at 26-24. Down to the wire on the very last set, the Lady Bulldogs fell to Worland by only two points 16-14.

“What hurt us most was our serving in this match,” explained Jameson. “We missed a total of 13 serves, which we never do. It is hard to win doing that.”

Reasch had 31 kills, 5 blocks, 15 digs, an ace and an assist. Savage had 4 kills, 2 blocks and a dig before spraining her ankle in the third set, which put her on the bench with an ice pack. Nichols had 9 kills, 33 digs, an ace and an assist. Nichols had been playing well through stomach problems, but ended up off the court in the fifth set.

“She had been such a fighter and had been playing while she was sick for much of the match before it became too much for her to keep down,” said Jameson.

Chayli McArthur had 7 kills, 2 blocks, 25 digs, 3 aces and an assist. Keller had 3 kills and 27 digs. Hinckley had a back row kill along with 16 digs. Charri McArthur finished with 3 kills, 18 digs, an ace and 48 assists. Angie Hutzenbiler also came off the bench and had a fantastic dig in place of Nichols, who felt to sick too play at that point.

“I just told the girls, when it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be,” said Jameson. “This being our first year to move up to 3A (since Jameson has been coaching), I thought we really competed and have nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not like we were surrounded by weak competition. We earned our spot in the state tournament and went down there and held our own. Obviously we wished the outcomes would have been different, but we can hold our heads up for accomplishing what we did.”

By Patti Carpenter