The Lovell Lady Bulldogs volleyball squad went toe-to-toe with some tough competition at the 2A West Regional Tournament Friday-Saturday in Lander. The Lady Bulldogs went 2-2, with one of the wins going five games against competitive Southwest second-seed Kemmerer, to finish fourth and qualify for the Class 2A State Tournament Thursday through Saturday in Casper.
The Lady Bulldogs opened up tournament play as the number three seed from the Northwest and dropped a tough game one to Wind River 25-23. Trying to gain some momentum in the match, Lovell battled but fell to Wind River 25-20 in games two and three to drop the match.
With the tough loss, the Lady Bulldogs had to fight their way through the consolation bracket and defeated Wyoming Indian 3-0 to stay alive in the tournament. After winning game one 25-17, Lovell then went on to win a tough 27-25 game two against the Lady Chiefs to grab a 2-0 lead in the match.
After the tough game two with Wyoming Indian, the Lady Bulldogs got out the brooms and completed the sweep with a 25-16 game three victory.
Five-game thriller with Kemmerer
Coming off a big victory against Wyoming Indian, Lovell met Kemmerer Saturday morning with the
winner earning a spot in the state tournament. After a lift gave Lovell a 19-14 lead in game one, a few kills from Alea Mayes and Mandi Jo Baxendale gave Lovell a 22-15 lead. A few costly Kemmerer errors helped the Lady Bulldogs defeat the Lady Rangers 25-19 to take an early 1-0 lead in the match.
Both teams again traded point after point and were tied at 12 apiece until the Lady Rangers started pulling away with a 5-0 run to lead 17-12. The Lady Bulldogs tried to claw their way back into the game but couldn’t get it done as Kemmerer went on to win game two 25-18 and tie the match up at one apiece.
The Lady Rangers built a 19-12 lead in game three until Lovell called a timeout to regroup. Unfortunately, the timeout did not work as Kemmerer finished the game on an 8-0 run to win the game 25-12 and take a 2-1 lead.
After leading 10-8 in game four, the Lady Bulldogs gained some momentum right when they needed to by building an 11-0 run to lead 21-8 late in the game. Kemmerer did stop the run with a couple of points on their side, but Lovell had too much momentum and went on to win 25-13 to force a game five.
Lovell started strong in game five with a 3-0 lead on a couple of tips and a kill by Baxendale, but Kemmerer fought back and tied it at three. The two teams traded points until the Lady Bulldogs broke away from a 10-10 tie with two kills from Mayes and Kemmerer hitting errors to put the Lady Bulldogs up 14-10. On the ensuing match point, Kemmerer pulled back within one until Baxendale came up with a big kill to win the game 15-13 and put Lovell into the state tournament.
“They did well coming back after the loss to Wind River,” coach Kisha McArthur said, “especially the Kemmerer game where they were down two games to one and had to win games four and five to get into State.”
After the tough win against Kemmerer, Lovell met up with Wind River again in a third-place match. The Lady Bulldogs fought hard but were swept by the Lady Cougars 25-17, 25-21, 25-22 to finish fourth at Regionals.
Stats were not available for any of the matches at the regional tournament.
The Lovell Lady Bulldogs will go into the state tournament as a number-four seed from the West and will face off against number one East seed Sundance in a battle of the Bulldogs today (Thursday) at 1 p.m. in Casper. If Lovell wins, they will face the winner of the Big Horn-Greybull match Friday at 4:30 p.m. If Lovell loses, they will play Friday at 1 p.m. against the loser of the Big Horn-Greybull match.
“We are working on covering our holes on the court,” assistant coach Kristin Owens said. “I feel that was our biggest struggle.
“I feel like Sundance and Wright are the teams going in with the best record, but if we go in playing our game and attacking the ball, we should stick right with them.”
By Sam Smith