Lady Panthers bring "A" game

Beat Laramie sophomores, North Park and Kaycee


After a momentary stumble against their first conference opponent Sept. 10, the Panthers volleyball team came roaring back to form last week. The girls took all three of their matches in commanding fashion, winning in the minimum three sets against Kaycee (Sept. 17) and North Park (Sept. 13), and taking what would have been a grudge match from the Laramie sophomore team in four sets Sept. 16.

Laramie, whom the Panthers had already defeated earlier in the season, posed one of the biggest challenges of the week. After taking the first set in easy fashion 25-12, the Panthers dropped their next game 25-20, tying the series at 1-1. The next two sets Saratoga was back in the driver’s seat, and the Cats won with a blowout 25-5 score in the third and 25-13 win in the fourth.

Games at home against Kaycee were closer, but Saratoga did not concede a set. Kaycee fell 25-20 in the first game and 25-13 the second. The third set of the day ended up being a 26-24 extra points W for the Panthers.

A match against North Park also added to the Panthers win column. With scores of 25-20, 25-16 and 25-12, the Panthers sent Saratoga fans home pleased. None of Saratoga’s three wins last week impact conference standings, however.

Panther coach Shayley Love said she was pleased with her team’s play and credited a return to basics. “(Consistent service) was a huge momentum changer for us,” Love said of the team’s resurgence.

“Against Baggs our serving was not good at all, but these last three games they served really well,” Love noted.

Love said a position shift—sending Shaelee Hamann back to center where she played in the past—also paid off.

“The things she’s doing are nice because they’re different from how our other middle plays,” Love said. “Both our home games were great games to be here to watch,” the coach concluded.

Looking ahead to the week to come, Saratoga will play Farson/Eden 5:15 p.m. Sept. 23 at home, and then face North Park again 5:15 p.m. Sept. 24 in Walden. “Friday (against Farson/Eden) is going to be a big match for us. They’re ranked number four in the state right now,” Love said.

The coach said that Farson’s large and physical front row may necessitate a shift in tactics for the Panthers. To counter Farson’s height advantage, Love said her team will be using more lateral attacks, trickery and misdirection.

“It’s too hard to get through their blocks. Right now I think the only player who probably could is Aubrey (Berger) because she’s strong enough,” Love said.

Instead, she said the Panthers will “try to find some tip spots against them, make them move and see what their defense is like.”

Farson, which represents the more important match as a conference team, is still something of an X-factor for Love.

“I don’t know a whole lot about them. We saw a little bit of them in our tournament (in the early season) but I think all the teams have changed since that tournament,” Love noted.

With the Panthers bringing their A game lately, it promises to be a good matchup.


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