Bump, set, spike, State!

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Robert Galbreath photos The Big Piney High School Lady Punchers, pictured with Head Coach Kinsy Voss, far left, and assistant coach Hannah Runyan, far right, snagged a berth at the 2A State Tournament following a 3-2 victory against Kemmerer at the Regional Tournament on Oct. 28. Junior Charleigh Smith serves the ball against Shoshoni at Regionals on Oct. 28. Smith aced seven serves against St. Stephens the previous evening, helping her team score a 3-0 clean sweep against its opponent.

Lady Punchers snag State berth

RIVERTON – The tiebreaker fifth set between the Big Piney High School Lady Puncher volleyball team and the Kemmerer Lady Rangers reached a stalemate at 9 points at the 2A West Regional Tournament in Riverton on Saturday, Oct. 28.

The fate of the remainder of each team’s season hung in the balance, with the winner advancing to the State Tournament in Casper and the loser heading home.

Kemmerer won the first two sets. In an epic comeback, the Lady Punchers won the third and fourth sets, taking the game into a fifth set.

Kemmerer scored a point to regain the lead in the fifth set, 10-9.

Sophomore Brylie Bailey responded with a powerful kill and the set reached a deadlock, 10-10.

The Lady Rangers edged back ahead with 2 points. Junior Addison Losik slammed a kill over the net.

The Lady Rangers returned Big Piney’s serve. Sophomore libero Lizzy Brandt dug deep to pass the ball to sophomore Kaity Shreve.

Shreve set the ball up for sophomore Kodee Greene to deliver a kill, closing Kemmerer’s lead to a single point, 13-12.

The Lady Rangers struck out returning a hit from Greene, allowing Big Piney to tie the set at 13 points.

Junior Kendra Willoughby served the ball for Big Piney. Kemmerer returned the ball. Brandt made a dig, sending the ball to Shreve to set for freshman Jada Banks to spike a kill.

The Lady Rangers again returned the ball, this time answered by Brandt, Shreve and Greene. Banks bumped the ball back into Lady Ranger territory. Kemmerer sent the ball back toward Big Piney.

Greene reached up and made a block, pulling Big Piney into the lead, 14-13.

Fans in the audience and the Lady Punchers on the sidelines held up their index fingers.

Willoughby served the ball. Following a brief back and forth, Kemmerer powered the ball in the Lady Punchers’ direction.

Banks leapt up and made a block for the Lady Punchers.

Big Piney won the set, 15-13, and triumphed over Kemmerer, 3-2, to capture the No. 4 seed at the 2A State Tournament in Casper on Nov. 2-4.

“The Kemmerer game was a lot of fun,” said Brandt. “We struggled with energy in the first two sets, but we got that energy back to win the game.”

The Lady Punchers focused on each point to regain the lead in the third and fourth sets, said junior Micah Strong.

“We wanted to win that game really badly,” Strong added. “We all fought and dug deep.”

Winning a close, five-set game meant “taking ownership of mistakes” and blocking out all distractions to move ahead, said Shreve.

“You just put blinders on,” Shreve remarked. “You don’t really look at the crowd or listen to them. You just focus on your job and your team.”

The State Tournament begins on Thursday, Nov. 2, when Big Piney squares off against Big Horn at the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper at 1 p.m. For more details and links to livestreams of the game, visit the Wyoming High School Activities Association’s website at www.whsaa.org/volleyball/statevolleyball.

The team looks forward to the challenge in Casper.

“It’s going to be fun to play at State,” said Strong.

“I look forward to working as a team, getting better as a team,” Shreve noted.

And for Brandt?

“Winning!”

Regionals – Day 1

The Regional Tournament commenced with Big Piney playing Shoshoni. Each set came down to the wire. Shoshoni ultimately won three sets by only a few points, 25-20, 25-19 and 25-23.

The Lady Punchers moved to the consolation bracket where they hit the court against St. Stephens late on Friday evening.

The Lady Punchers overwhelmed St. Stephens in the first set, 25-6. Strong posted three kills and two aces. Greene aced three serves and made a kill. Bailey and Losik both delivered a kill. Willoughby scored game point with an ace.

Maintaining their momentum into the second set, the Lady Punchers held the lead from the first point to game point, 25-6. Losik powered over two kills and a block. Greene scored with a kill and a block. Shreve set over a point.

Willoughby, Banks and freshman Brynn Penfield each aced a serve. Junior Charleigh Smith dominated from the serving line with seven aces, including game point.

The Lady Punchers took charge of the third set at 6 points with a kill by Losik and controlled the remainder of the game.

Greene delivered a block and two kills. Willoughby stepped up to the serving line and launched a scoring run of five aces.

Strong bumped over a point and Greene followed up with two more kills. Shreve set over a point. Penfield aced a serve. St. Stephens were unable to return a serve by Penfield, and Big Piney scored game point, 25-11.

Kemmerer

The Lady Rangers won the first two sets, 25-19 and 25-14.

Undaunted, the Lady Punchers turned the tables in the third set, controlling the scoreboard throughout the entirety of the set.

Strong slammed over four kills, with two apiece from Banks, Bailey and Losik. Greene powered up a kill and Brandt bumped over a point. On defense, Greene, Losik and Strong each made a block.

The fourth set turned into a cliffhanger. The Lady Rangers took charge at 6 points before striking out twice while returning the ball. Greene tipped the ball into Kemmerer territory to tie the set at 12 points.

Kemmerer regained the lead at 13 points. Big Piney fought to close the gap with kills by Greene, Losik, Strong and Bailey.

The Lady Punchers matched Kemmerer in scoring at 20 points with a kill from Losik. The Lady Rangers tangled with the net and Strong aced a serve to widen Big Piney’s lead, 24-20.

The Lady Rangers came close to closing the deficit, scoring points 22 and 23. Kemmerer sent the ball into Big Piney territory. Shreve set the ball to Bailey. Bailey bumped the ball into the far right corner to score game point for Big Piney, 25-23.

Both teams left it on the court in the fifth set. Big Piney dominated the first half of the set, establishing a 6-point lead with aces by Banks, a kill from Strong and a block by Greene.

Kemmerer snuck up and tied the set at 9 points. Bailey and Losik both responded with a kill. Kemmerer failed to return a hit by Greene, and the game reached a stalemate at 13 points.

Blocks by both Greene and Banks sealed the win for Big Piney, 15-13.