The Saratoga Sun -

Saratoga, Hanna meet at the net

Lady Panthers take North Park 4-1, sweep youthful Lady Miners

 

Lady Panther Taylor Bennett taps it over the net to a waiting Amy Campbell of the Lady Miners during Friday's contest between county rivals.

The Saratoga Lady Panthers had a busy week, facing off against the Wildcats of North Park High School in Walden Thursday, and against the Hanna-Elk Mountain-Medicine Bow Lady Miners Friday.

The Panthers ended the weekend victorious, winning the match against North Park in four games on that team's home court. Saratoga went on the next day to sweep the Lady Miners of Hanna in three games at the Panther Den.

For the young team, the victories are a sign that the team is doing well as the players get their heads around a new defense and generally get back into shape after the offseason.

"We were a little low energy today," Shayley Love, the Panther's head coach said Friday after the game against HEM. "We played last night and getting back into that playing three–out–of–five set routine takes a little bit of getting into shape."

Thursday in Walden, Saratoga netters won the match in four games, with scores of 25-18, 25-12, 18-25 and 25-21. The Panthers hit hard against the Wildcats in the Never Summer Valley, with 133 attack attempts for the match, and 22 kills. Overall the team scored 13 aces in the match, with juniors Melissa Pinedo and Mychaela Jackman delivering four apiece.

Friday, for the second time in as many weeks, the Panthers played against HEM, sweeping the North County team in three games.

The Panthers hit the Miners hard, taking the match with scores of 25-14, 25-20 and 25-21. The previous week, Saratoga defeated the Lady Miners at the Saratoga Invite in two sets, scoring 25-14 and 25-13 in those game.

Love said the team's win Friday was a closer game, and that was exactly what she expected. The HEM team is young, she said, but she expected the Miners to up their game and give the Panthers more of a run for their money.

"We know Hanna is scrappy and they always are," Love said. "We don't know what's coming at us; they like to tip sometimes, they like to hit and they get everything up."

The key for the team is preparation, but with a team like Hanna that likes to mix things up, it can be difficult, Love said. Early in the season however, there are some growing pains expected as the players get their legs back after the offseason, and adapt to new play.

"We need to work on our defense a little bit, it's a new defense for us and we had some overlaps happening, so we just have to go back and tweak them a little bit," Love said.

Defensively, the Panthers delivered 11 solo blocks against the Miners, and 77 digs. During Thursday's game in Walden, the team made seven total blocks and 73 digs.

Love said going forward, the team would be focusing on defense drills this week. "It'll just be a lot of repetition this week as far as defense goes," she said. "Just getting that confidence back that they had coming into that first week when they were so excited to play and they all were confident about it.

"We have our first conference game next week so that's really important for us to find that rhythm and that consistency so that we're ready for Farson on Saturday," Love said.

The Panthers will take on the Farson-Eden Pronghorns Saturday in Farson and will be on the road until the week of September 18, Saratoga High School's homecoming.

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