Lady Wranglers find success at Border Wars

Laila Illoway photos

EVANSTON – Wyoming volleyball dominated the court at the annual Border Wars hosted by Evanston on Sept. 3-4. The Lady Wranglers played opponents from Utah and Idaho and won four of six matches.

“I’m proud to say that the Wyoming teams won the Border War,” said head coach Tamara Currah.

Pinedale scored back-to-back victories against Uintah and Providence Hall high schools after a loss to Waterford High School on day one.

On Saturday, the Lady Wranglers lost to South Summit High School. That afternoon, Pinedale squared off against a familiar tournament adversary – Grace, Idaho. The Lady Wranglers fought five intense, point-by-point sets to pull out a 3-2 win.

Topping the tournament off, Pinedale beat Hillcrest High School in a three-set sweep.

Playing out-of-state teams from metropolitan and rural areas provided the Lady Wranglers valuable experience and confidence.

“Overall, Pinedale varsity did a great job,” said coach Currah. “I was very proud of them – it was a long two days. The losses that we had were very close. The girls did a great job keeping their heads up and learning from each game.”

Day 1

Waterford High School, located in Sandy, Utah, fought Pinedale tooth and nail in three sets. The Lady Wranglers trounced Waterford in set one, 25-13. Waterford stepped up in set two and edged out Pinedale, 25-21.

The match came down to the tiebreaker with Waterford pulling ahead by two points for the win, 17-15.

Undeterred, the Lady Wranglers moved on to beat the team from Uintah High School in Vernal, Utah. Pinedale overpowered the Utes in two sets, 25-17 and 25-15.

Pinedale finished out the day against Providence Hall High School in Herriman, Utah. The Lady Wranglers kept their momentum going, taking out Providence in two quick sets, 25-18 and 25-14.

Day 2 – Grace redux

Opening the day, Pinedale handily defeated South Summit High School’s squad from Kamas, Utah, in two sets, 25-18 and 25-14.

Buoyed by three wins, the Lady Wranglers faced off against Grace, Idaho. Tournament organizers switched the format from best of three to best of five and the Lady Wranglers were unaware a five-set test of endurance lay ahead.

“The game that showed the team’s determination and heart (at the tournament) was the game against Grace,” said coach Currah. “It was definitely back and forth. As the game progressed, I saw a lot more talking on the court, celebrating for each point and a lot more teamwork. It was a great game to show the girls that they can win in tight games, and they are good.”

The first set established the pace, with the lead switching point by point. Seniors Roxanne Rogers and Darby Clause both served up aces. Fellow seniors Maggie Harber and Abigail Hawke and junior Haylen Sandner kept Pinedale close on Grace’s heels with kills.

Grace pulled ahead after tying the set at point 11 and managed to stay in the lead, despite an ace by Sandner and set of kills from sophomore Trista Covill. Grace won the first set, 25-20.

The second set turned into a heater played beyond 25 points. Grace took the lead at point 15 and held on until Sandner delivered a kill, tying the set at 21 points. Covill sent the ball over the net for point 24. Grace edged ahead by a point before getting tangled in the net. Hawke scored point 26 with a block. A kill from Rogers sealed the win for Pinedale, 27-26.

Grace took over the third set and racked up an early 7-point lead. Two kills by Sandner and a pair of aces from Rogers partially closed the gap, but Grace stayed ahead to win the set, 15-10.

Determined not to throw in the towel, the Lady Wranglers turned the tables and won the fourth set, 15-10, to tie the match, 2-2. Hawke and Harber shot in kills placing Pinedale in the lead. Grace edged up before Rogers served up an ace, tying the set at six points.

Kills by Sandner and Covill put Pinedale ahead. Hawke slammed over point 13. Senior Darby Clause served an ace for point 14 and Rogers delivered a kill and game point.

Both teams threw all the chips on the table in an all-or-nothing fifth set. Recovering from a botched serve, Grace took the lead with a four-point deficit. Harber, Rogers, Sandner and Covill closed the gap to a single point.

Hawke blocked Grace’s attempt to get the ball over the net, tying the set at seven points. Grace scored again, answered by a hit from Covill. Hawke launched a set of kills placing Pinedale in the lead.

Clause served up two powerful aces, taking the Lady Wranglers to 14 points. Junior Sara Kunard, selflessly serving the team as libero the entire five-set marathon, bumped the ball up to sophomore Reagan Davis. Davis set the ball for Rogers to make the kill and game point.

Rounding the day out with a second victory, Pinedale thrashed the team from Hillcrest High School in Ammon, Idaho. The Lady Wranglers claimed victory in three sets, 25-21, 25-19 and 15-6.

“This year, our goal is to learn from each game and get better,” Currah said. “At practice, we are trying to get better at the little things, because we know that the little things will make a greater difference in the long run.”

Pinedale wraps up the pre-season at the Rawlins Tournament on Sept. 10-11.

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Laila Illoway photos

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