Panthers claw their way to 3-1 start with sterling serving


Max Miller

Senior Meredith Lincoln elevates for a smash during a hard-fought match against Dubois Saturday morning. The Panthers took the set in two matches (25-22, 25-18), and took three out of four sets over the weekend's season-opening invitational.

The Saratoga High School (SHS) girls' volleyball team got off to a strong start Aug. 26 and 27, winning three of their first four matches of the season at a round-robin tournament held in Saratoga. About 40 spectators watched as the Panthers won against Hanna Elk Mountain (HEM), Guernsey-Sunrise and Dubois. The Panthers' only loss came against Big Piney on Friday.

Saratoga won the HEM set in two matches, finishing 25-18 and 25-19 against the Miners. The varsity squad likewise defeated Guernsey-Sunrise in the minimum, starting things off with a 25-10 drubbing and then eking out a 25-22 victory in the second match.

With a vocal group of boys acting as boosters, Saratoga dispatched Dubois in two closely contested matches, winning 25-22 and 25-18.

Against Big Piney, it was the Panthers who were on their heels, however, losing 25-10 and then 25-14.

Panthers Volleyball coach Shayley Love said she was pleased with her squad and predicted a strong season to come. She said the girls' three wins can be partially credited to their strong serving, saying consistent service "was a huge benefit for us." Love said the season was still young, but "Our passing was pretty decent as well."

Of the nine varsity players, four are seniors, making for a lot of experience on the hardwood. Love spoke highly of the girls, saying she "was impressed with the way the seniors came out and played. They had a lot of energy."

On the other hand, Love said the Panthers were still working on group cohesion and "learning each other's tendencies." Love said a lot of girls had been shuffled around the court, and were still learning the ropes of their new positions in addition to learning what the person next to them will do. Another area Love said the Panthers could improve on was defense. "We're definitely going to work on some of our blocking drills (this week)," Love said. Seamlessly transitioning from offense to a defensive posture and "really reading what the other team is doing and being prepared for (the ball) to come back over the net," will help the Panthers wrack up more Ws in the weeks to come, she said.

The next SHS volleyball match will be 4 p.m. at HEM against the Miners. Though Love said she was happy the Panthers won their matches against HEM on Saturday, she warned against complacency, calling the Miners fast, scrappy and "a team that you can't underestimate." In particular, Love said the Panthers will try to neutralize the Miners' two middles, calling them "two players we really need to key in on." Otherwise, Love said, it will just be a matter of "playing our game and making sure we eliminate our errors."

On the junior varsity side of things, the Panthers won two of four, taking victories from Guernsey-Sunrise and Farson-Eden, while falling in two to Dubois and losing a three match battle with Snake River. Love said that as the season progresses, there could be shifting in the makeup of the varsity and JV squads.


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