Lady Panthers split matches

Lady Panthers lose to Farson-Eden, win against Walden


Max Miller

Panther and Pronghorn alike wait to see on which side of the net a teetering ball will fall. Inconsistent serving and imprecise passing troubled Saratoga in Friday's loss to Farson/Eden. The Lady Panthers rebounded against North Park High the next day, however.

The Panthers volleyball team split the weekend's matches, but they didn't win the one they wanted to. A Saturday win over non-conference North Park in Walden, Colo. was overshadowed by a loss in four suffered the night before at home against conference competitor Farson/Eden. Despite strong showing in friendlies throughout the year, the Panthers have fallen 0 and 2 in the games that count, placing them towards the back of the pack in their 1A Southwest Conference.

It was the Panthers' second match of the season against North Park High, and Saratoga has yet to drop a single set against the Wildcats. Winning in the minimum three sets for the second time of 2016, Saratoga took the games in increasingly confident fashion 25-20, 25-16, and 25-12.

"The girls' passes were on, their sets were on, we were putting the ball away," coach Shaylee Love said. Love called out junior Kaylyn Herring and senior Meredith Lincoln for especially exceptional play in the front row against North Park. Love also credited a strong serving game for the win, estimating that "on Saturday, we missed two, maybe three serves the whole game."

By contrast, Love called Friday's conference match against Farson/Eden one of the two worst serving games of the season for her team. The other game in which Saratoga lost its cool at the service line was against Baggs-another high pressure conference match.

Saratoga lost in four against Farson/ Eden Friday, dropping the first two sets 25-10 before showing some life with a closely fought 25-23 win. The decisive fourth match, however, saw the Panthers lose again, by a score of 25-15.

"Right now our girls need to learn how to focus on playing their style of volleyball when it's a conference game," Love said. In addition to service-line nerves, Love said "We got a little bit rattled and our passes weren't perfect every time and then our setters were struggling to get our sets on the net." As described by Love, imprecise ball handling lead Saratoga to tip the ball over the net instead of being able to unload forceful spikes against Farson/Eden and that "just gave them too much of an advantage as far as setting them up to put it back on our side."

Allowing that the Panthers could have played better, Love also paid Farson/Eden their dues, saying "They're a very good hitting team for sure."

This weekend, Saratoga plays two home conference matches, hosting undefeated Encampment 4 p.m. Sept. 30 and then Cokeville 10:15 a.m. Oct. 1.

Offering a glimpse into her strategy for defending against the tough Encampment Tigers team, Love said the Panthers would be focusing on stopping Paige Powell. "If we can keep up with her in the game, I think we'll be pretty solid," Love said. The coach warned that Encampment had a good program though, and said, "They have one player you shut down another one steps up."


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