The Saratoga Sun -

Panthers slam Tigers in Homecoming match


Doug Radunich

Encampment Lady Tiger Cassidy Little, left, blocks a hit from Lady Panther Heather Oxford during Saratoga’s winning Homecoming game Friday.

The Saratoga Varsity Lady Panthers achieved their winning 2013 Homecoming volleyball game Friday, taking down rival Encampment’s Lady Tigers with four games in packed Panther territory.

Fans from Saratoga and Encampment flooded the gym to cheer on their teams, and eventually witness the 2A Lady Panthers (15-7, 4-1) take in match-winning scores of 15-25, 25-23, 25-21 and 25-21. The 1A Lady Tigers (14-5-1, 5-1) looked like they might own the match at the start, with a 10-point win in the first game, but Saratoga fought back to prove they could win on their home turf that evening.

Panther coach Shayley Love said she was pleased with the team’s takeover in the last three games, which they won by only two or four points.

“I was not surprised with the outcome, but I was pleased with how the girls played,” she said. “It’s always great to win your homecoming game, but it was even better to beat a team that had beat us previously. These girls play hard every game, and they never give up and are determined to do whatever they have to in order to finish a match. It was great to see the girls take control and really push to finish.”

Love said the entire match was intense and full of suspense as to who could pull through and win it all, especially during the last three games.

“It was one of those games where you keep fighting to the finish,” she said. “It could have gone either way at times, but my girls kept their composure and our crowd was amazing. We have worked very hard this season to make sure our girls are in the best shape possible, and I felt like they were solid the whole match and played their hearts out. That was so much fun to have the big crowd there, and the school spirit and pride from our students was outstanding. I can’t thank everyone enough for coming out to support us.”

After watching great individual play, Love said several of the girls showed certain strengths that led toward their overall win.

“Mati had a great save in the second set to help us pull back into the set,” she said. “The whole team had a great serving night for the most part and Veronica and Heather each served 100 percent. Veronica had a great defensive night in the back row, while Heather and Justine owned the net blocking, and Shelby had some great kills while Nikki and Haley served some great serves. Our three seniors led the team with their fire and determination, and I am very impressed with how they have been leading our team this season.”

Love said at this point in time, she is confident that her girls have a trip set for regionals.

“These ladies definitely have the potential and drive to do great things, and I am very excited to see what the future holds at the end of the month,” she said. “We’ll take it one game at a time, meaning we need to take care of these last four conference games and then look toward regionals. If they play with composure and consistency they will do great, and I am hopeful they will get a chance to step on the blue floor to compete.”

Love also gave credit to the Lady Tigers for putting up a hard fight and not giving up in the last three games.

“Encampment has a great, young team,” she said. “They are doing really good things on the court, and I look for them to compete well at Regionals and hopefully State. I feel our girls are pretty even with them right now, and that is what makes the game fun to coach and play, having good competition. Carbon County is well represented this season.”

On behalf of the Lady Tigers, coach Robin O’Leary said she was proud to see her 1A team play hard against a strong 2A team like Saratoga.

“It certainly wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but I was proud of the whole team,” O’Leary said. “The girls stayed focused on the game, and even all the noise didn’t seem to bother them. Jenny Morgan was phenomenal in the front row, but all our girls did well. Our JV girls are also getting more comfortable with their positions.”

O’Leary said her team’s defense was strong against Saratoga’s hitters, but that things weakened once the Panthers got aggressive in their tipping.

“Our strengths were great serving, which kept us in the game, serves received, setting and hitting, but our weakness was defense against their tips,” she said. “We handled Saratoga’s hits, but they found a weakness in our defense when they started tipping. That’s something we’ve got to work on before regionals and conference, that defense against tipping. Shelby McGuire from Saratoga was very smart in her placement of tips and her teammates soon followed, which made it hard for us to successfully defend them.”

O’Leary also mentioned a slowdown in aggressive play as a contribution to the team’s loss.

“We were super-aggressive in the first and second games, but in the next games we starting playing safe and were mostly just trying to get the ball over instead of hit hard,” she said. “It made a big difference for team as whole, and the second game is where our aggressiveness began to slide. They had a couple of hitters hit really well too, but they got us with their good tips.”

The Lady Tigers’ next game is Friday at Farson-Eden, which is followed by three home conference games, west regionals and the state tournament.

“The rest of the games are all conference games, which will determine where we end up in region,” O’Leary said. “We’re sitting pretty good heading into our conference match-ups right now. Saratoga is as well, and we wish them good luck. We played pretty well with a good 2A team like that, and we’re proud of them for their win.”

The Lady Panthers’ next game is Saturday at Lusk, which is followed by two home games, regionals and the state tournament. Saratoga also played Pine Bluffs Tuesday, but scores were unavailable at press time.

Varsity Scores

Saratoga Vs. Encampment 10/4/13

15-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-19

Saratoga Win

Shelby McGuire- served 14 for 16, 2 aces, 9 kills, 13 assists, 13 digs

Veronica Lincoln- served 13 for 13, 2 aces, 27 digs

Heather Oxford- served 13 for 13, 3 aces, 13 kills, 5 blocks, 14 digs

Kelsie Samson- 4 digs

Mati Love- served 10 for 12, 1 ace, 4 kills, 8 assists, 6 digs

Nikki Pacheco- served 16 for 19, 3 kills, 4 digs

Justine Fourman- 5 kills, 6 blocks

Haley Soles- served 15 for 16, 2 aces, 6 digs

Encampment vs. Saratoga 10/4/13

25-15, 23-25, 21-25, 19-25

Encampment Loss

Kaylyn Wessel- 9/10 for serves, 5 kills, 16 digs

Jenny Morgan- 10/10 for serves, 1 ace, 23 kills, 28 digs, 4 blocks

Alyssa Barkhurst- 16/16 for serves, 12 kills, 34 digs, 1 block

Cassidy Little- 9/9 for serves, 2 kills, 17 digs, 4 blocks

Sierra Loftice- 18/18 for serves, 1 ace, 2 kills, 37 assists, 9 digs

McKenzie Powell- 2 assists, 27 digs, 1 block

Emily Morgan- 13/13 for serves, 1 ace, 2 digs

Encampment vs. Walden 10/1/13

21-25, 20-25, 22-25, Loss

Jenny Morgan- 9/9 for serves, 2 aces, 9 kills, 17 digs, 1 block

Kaylyn Wessel- 13/13 for serves, 2 aces, 1 kill, 15 digs, 2 blocks

Cassidy Little- 8/9 for serves, 8 kills, 10 digs, 1 block

McKenzie Powell- 6/8 for serves, 2 kills, 11 digs

Sierra Loftice- 8/8 for serves, 3 digs, 17 assists

Emily Morgan- 7/8 for serves, 2 aces, 5 digs

JV Scores

Saratoga vs. Encampment


25-13, 25-10

Saratoga Win


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