LOVELL – The Pinedale Lady Wranglers attacked their opponents at the 3A West Regional Tournament in Lovell with spunk and underdog ferocity.
Pinedale entered Regionals as the No. 4 seed in the 3A Southwest Quadrant and squared off against the Powell Lady Panthers, ranked No. 1 in the Northwest, for the first game on Friday, Oct. 28.
The Lady Wranglers beat their top-ranked opponent in the first set by 5 points. Powell scored decisive wins in the second and third sets.
Pinedale rallied in the fourth set that came down to the wire. Forcing Powell to fight for every point, the Lady Wranglers frequently tied the set or remained within 1 or 2 points of overtaking the Lady Panthers until Powell scored game point and a 3-1 victory.
Pinedale dropped into the consolation bracket, playing an early morning game against Worland on Saturday, Oct. 29.
The Lady Wranglers and Lady Warriors both brought their A-games to the match that determined whether a team remained in the tournament with a chance at State or went home.
The lead constantly changed hands, set by set, point by point.
Worland won the first set by a razor-thin margin of 2 points. Pinedale responded with a win in the second set. Worland took control of the third set, although Pinedale kept close on the Lady Warriors’ heels until Worland scored game point.
The outcome of the fourth set remained up in the air until Worland pulled ahead to score game point for a 3-1 victory.
While their season ended early, the Lady Wranglers achieved multiple successes. Pinedale tallied 17 wins overall for the 2022 season. Dominating tournaments early in the season, the Lady Wranglers defeated teams from across Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. Pinedale trounced its rival, Lyman, at the Rawlins Tournament.
Pinedale faced especially tough opponents in its quadrant this season. Numerous conference games went into four closely contested sets. Regardless of the final score, the Lady Wranglers showed up to each game with determination, tenacity and class.
Pinedale struck with fury in the first set. Powell hit the ball out returning a hit from senior Sara Kunard. Junior Ana Mika delivered a pair of kills. Sophomore Mae McGuire spiked a point and senior McKenzie Illoway aced her serve.
Senior Haylen Sandner broke a tie at 6 points with a kill. Coverage by sophomore Gabby Rogers, senior Mikayla Drake and Mika resulted in a point.
Mika slammed over a kill to place Pinedale in the lead at 8 points. Sandner made a block and junior Trista Covill scored a kill.
The Lady Panthers struck out responding to a serve by Kunard. Covill spiked point 12.
Junior Reagan Davis served 2 points. McGuire made a kill and Illoway defended the net.
Powell caught up at 15 points. A kill by McGuire pulled Pinedale ahead.
Illoway served a point and Sandner blocked Powell’s attempt to score. Mika tipped the ball over the net and Rogers scored with a dig. Sandner tipped the ball and made a kill. Covill and Sandner both spiked points.
Kunard made a dig and passed the ball to Davis. Davis set the ball up for Sandner to slam over game point, 25-20.
The Lady Panthers controlled the second set, taking the initiative early and holding the lead until Powell scored game point, 25-16.
Pinedale fought for the lead as the third set opened. Davis served a point and McGuire reached up for a block. A kill by McGuire tied the set at 3 points. Illoway aced a serve and Powell served the ball out. The Lady Panthers took the lead after point 5 and held on until game point, 25-15.
The Lady Wranglers made Powell fight for points in the fourth set. Hits by Rogers, McGuire and Davis kept the score tied early in the set. A kill by Covill pulled Pinedale ahead at 9 points.
Powell regained the lead at 10 points until the game tied up again at 16 points with a pair of aces from Kunard. Covill spiked a point and Illoway defended the net. Powell edged up and overtook Pinedale at 19 points and scored game point, 25-21.
The first set remained neck-in-neck until game point. Covill spiked a point to tie the set at 4 points. A pair of kills by McGuire pulled Pinedale ahead at point 9.
The Lady Warriors tangled with the net returning a serve by Rogers. Mika spiked the ball and Worland served short. Pinedale maintained the lead with a block by Sandner and kill from Mika.
The Lady Warriors caught up at 14 points. Mika broke the stalemate with a spike. Worland took charge until Illoway blocked the ball and delivered a kill. Rogers aced a serve to tie the set at 20 points.
Davis tipped the ball and Illoway served up an ace. A kill by Rogers resulted in a 23-23 stalemate. Worland managed to score two points, including game point, 25-23.
Pinedale dominated most of the second set. The Lady Warriors truck out on a serve by Illoway. McGuire powered over a kill and Sandner tipped the ball. Worland sent the ball into the net responding to a serve by Drake.
Sandner and Davis both tipped the ball. Davis leapt up for a block and Covill scored a pair of kills. Davis aced two serves. Covill made a kill and Davis served a third ace. Covill and McGuire defended the net. Illoway spiked a point and Sandner tipped the ball. Sandner followed up with three kills. Covill slammed over a kill and Sandner delivered a tip. A kill by Covill resulted in point 24.
Davis met Worland’s serve and passed the ball to Illoway. Illoway bumped the ball up for McGuire to deliver game point, 25-22.
The Lady Warriors held the lead through most of the third set, although Pinedale frequently kept the score to within 1 or 2 points until Worland scored game point, 25-22.
The Lady Wranglers took the lead as the fourth set opened. McGuire slammed over a pair of kills. Sandner spiked 2 points and Covill tipped the ball. Worland served out before tying the set at 6 points.
Kills by Covill, McGuire and Illoway maintained Pinedale’s momentum. Worland tied the set at 10 points. Freshman Alyxis White set a point and made a kill and Pinedale regained the lead.
Drake broke the tie at 13 points with a kill. Sandner spiked a point allowing Pinedale to catch up to Worland at point 15. An ace by Davis kept Pinedale in the game at point 17.
Worland eventually managed to pull ahead and score game point, 25-20.