RAWLINS – Games between conference rivals Pinedale and Lyman, or Pinedale and Mountain View, always manage to serve up the excitement and typically come down to the wire. The action at the 2022 Rawlins Tournament was no exception.
On Saturday, Sept. 10, Pinedale pulled up from behind to defeat Lyman, the 2021 State Champion, in both sets in bracket play at the tournament.
The Lady Wranglers then fell in a 2-0 nailbiter against Mountain View, the 2021 State runner-up, although Pinedale put up a tenacious fight and forced its opponent to battle beyond a 21-point tie in the second set.
The two-day event hosted by Rawlins High School on Sept. 9-10 featured many familiar faces from the 3A Conference, providing an opportunity for the Lady Wranglers to gain valuable experience playing teams they will see later this season.
Friday opened with pool play. Pinedale defeated Thermopolis and Newcastle and fell to Douglas, advancing with the top two teams from other pools to the Gold Bracket on Saturday.
Following its victory over Lyman and defeat to Mountain View, Pinedale fell in two close sets to Buffalo.
Once the dust settled, the Lady Wranglers found themselves in fourth place overall at the tournament, a strong performance that bodes well for the team as the regular season commences.
“Out of 16 varsity teams, placing fourth is something to be proud of,” said Head Coach Tamara Currah. “I was very proud of how both junior varsity and varsity played over the weekend. The Rawlins Tournament is great because it gives us a chance to see all the 3A teams in Wyoming.”
Buoyed by its success at Rawlins, Pinedale went on to trounce non-conference rival Big Piney, 3-0, at its first home game in front of an exuberant crowd on Tuesday, Sept. 13. The Lady Wranglers won each set, 25-8, 25-7 and 25-11.
Rawlins Tournament – Day 1
Pool play opened with Pinedale hitting the court against Thermopolis. The Lady Wranglers sailed to victory in both sets, 21-12 and 21-11.
“We won both sets pretty easily,” said Currah. “The girls served hard and passed well.”
Douglas defeated Pinedale in the next game, winning each set, 21-16 and 21-12.
“Douglas is very beatable, but unfortunately, they played better than us on that day,” Currah added. “We definitely have the talent to beat them.”
Rallying in the third game, Pinedale scored a 2-0 victory (21-15 and 21-18) against Newcastle to advance to the Gold Bracket.
Rawlins Tournament – Day 2
Saturday’s bracket play pitted Pinedale against heavy hitters in the conference and the Lady Wranglers rose to the challenge.
Lyman took an early lead in the first set following an ace by sophomore Gabby Rogers. Senior McKenzie Illoway slammed over a kill and Rogers scored a second hit. Lyman tangled with the net returning a serve from senior Toree Andersen. The set tied at point 8.
The Eagles again pushed ahead. Illoway delivered a kill and senior Sara Kunard served up an ace. Lyman hit the ball out returning a serve by senior Mikayla Drake.
Senior Haylen Sandner blocked the Eagles’ next attempt to score. Junior Trista Covill scored with a kill, assisted by junior Reagan Davis.
Sophomore Mae McGuire tipped over point 18. McGuire and Illoway defended the net to tie the set at 19 points. A kill by Illoway pulled Pinedale ahead by a point. Lyman sent the ball into the net following a second hit from Illoway and the Lady Wranglers scored game point, 21-19.
Pinedale pulled out all the stops in the second set. Sandner and Covill scored early points with Drake and Kunard making saves. Davis set over point 6 and served up point 7.
Rogers slammed the ball over, following a deep dig by Kunard.
Illoway added a pair of points to the scorebook while serving. Sandner and McGuire reached up for a block. Sander powered over a kill with Drake acing two serves.
Sandner tipped over point 16. Kunard served up an ace. Illoway scored game point, 21-9, assisted by Davis.
“Lyman was ranked No. 1 and just took first place at the Cokeville Tournament,” said Coach Currah. “I was so proud of the way the girls came into that game and especially the way they finished the first set. The girls did not give up and they worked hard for every point. This was a big win for us. We will see Lyman at least two more times this year, if not more.”
Despite hard hits by the Lady Wranglers against Mountain View, the Lady Buffalos won the first set, 21-14.
Pinedale answered back in the second set. Mountain View led by seven points midway through the match. Drake served an ace. Mountain View hit the ball out of bounds. Covill scored a hit and Rogers served a point. Covill slammed over a second hit. Sandner tipped over point 14 and Rogers aced her serve.
Davis scored point 17 with a set, tying Mountain View. A block from Covill tied the set again at 18 points. Mountain View sent two serves out of bounds and the set remained a stalemate at 21 points.
The Buffalos then managed to edge ahead to eke out a win, 23-21.
“Mountain View was a little tougher on Saturday,” said Currah. “The girls never gave up and worked really hard, though.”
In the final game, Buffalo won two tightly contested sets, 21-17 and 21-18.
The Lady Wranglers earned the right to hold their heads high, advancing to the Gold Bracket and beating Lyman, said Currah.
“We definitely have some work to do,” she added. “The thing I love about these girls, though, is that they are hard workers. We definitely will see great things from the Lady Wranglers this season.”