The Saratoga Sun -

They're baack!

Encampment netters kill all comers at weekend invite


The Encampment Lady Tigers joined several conference rivals at the Farson Pronghorn Invite in Farson Friday and Saturday. Standing apart from conference rivals, the Lady Tigers swept the competition, winning all their weekend matches.

The Tigers played three matches Friday and three more Saturday in the gold bracket, racking up a score of wins over the weekend, including taking a three-game match against second rated conference rival and defending state champion Rattlers from Little Snake River School in Baggs.

In many ways, the No.3 ranked Lady Tigers taking the match against the Rattlers is an indication that the team is coming back into form to rival the performance of last years’ team, which enjoyed a 23-0 win streak before faltering in the state finals, where the Rattlers eventually took the championship.

The Tigers’ began their weekend by burning the Midwest Oilers with scores of 25-10 and 25-5.

On a tear, the Tigers played it hot against the Red Devils of Hulett, who went down 25-15 and 25-19.

The Lady Tigers then finished off their Friday night by facing off against the Meeteetsee Longhorns, sending the ‘Horns back to Park County branded with losses of 25-17 and 25-8.

The Lady Tigers’ winning streak earned them a berth in the gold pool for the next day where the team’s recovering momentum would be tested against much tougher competitors, including the Rattlers.

Saturday, the Lady Tigers faced the hosts of the tournament, the Farson-Eden Pronghorns. The Tigers won that match in two sets, scoring 25-16 and 25-12, with a big emphasis on kills and digs. The Tigers had 23 kills against the Pronghorns with junior Paige Powell making 10. The Tigers hit 24 digs against Farson-Eden, with senior Hailey Barkhurst hitting 10 of those.

The next game on Saturday for the Tigers was their outing against the Rattlers of Baggs. The defending state champs and no. 2 rated Rattlers fell, but not easily. The Tigers lost their first game against LSRV by a score of 25-22. The Tigers rallied, however, and took the second game by a whopping 25-12, which sent the match into a final, 15-point third game to decide the outcome.

Encampment went on to defeat the Rattlers 15-11, securing their right to play in the championship match for the tournament.

The victory over Little Snake River was a watershed moment for the team that had been working its way back to the same performance level and confidence the Lady Tigers enjoyed last year when they were on a 23 game winning streak.

“This was a big game for us,” Robin O’Leary, the Lady Tigers’ head coach said in a written statement to the Saratoga Sun. “It was important that we came out and won the second game after losing the first one.”

O’Leary places credit for the victory with the team’s serve receiving and blocking. Overall, the team had 13 blocks against the Rattlers, with four of them coming at the hands of junior Lauren Buford, and three more each made by Powell and Barkhurst.

After having their spirits buoyed by the win against the Rattlers, the Tigers went on to face to Burlington Huskies in the final championship round. The Tigers muzzled the Huskies 25-19 and 25-13, taking home the right to call themselves champions of a very challenging meet, and confidence that—after a disheartening loss at state last year and a slog to rebuild this season— the Tigers are back.

The Encampment Lady Tigers will host the Lady Wildcats of North Park High School of Walden, Colorado, on Friday at 4:30 p.m. in the Tiger Den. The next day, Saturday, the Tigers will host the Little Snake River Rattlers for a reprisal of their matchup in Farson. That game is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Encampment High School.


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