The Saratoga Sun -

Encampment Tigers keep streak alive

Lady Tigers defeat two groups of Panthers, winning streak now stands at 18-0 on the season


FW Broschart

Lady Tiger Noelle Peterson prepares to spike the ball. Peterson had 4 kills versus Cokeville.

Top-ranked Encampment High School girls' volleyball team continued its undefeated streak this weekend by beating two groups of Panthers; one from neighboring Saratoga and the other from distant Cokeville.

The Lady Tigers traveled to the Panther den in Saratoga Friday to face off against the Saratoga Panthers on their home turf during Saratoga's homecoming week when spirits were high. Saratoga, who got off to a rocky start earlier in the season, impressed Encampment's coach, Robin O'Leary, with the degree of improvement the team has made.

"Saratoga has made a lot of improvement since the beginning of the season, especially defensively," O'Leary said. But despite those improvements, the Panthers still fell to the Tigers in a sweep of a match.

"One of our strengths as a team is that we have strong, smart hitters all the way around," O'Leary said. "We can count on them to score when we need it."

The Encampment junior varsity squad also impressed O'Leary, who said she was pleased with the skill development she has seen on the JV squad. The JV squad, she said, is setting up the ball and moving better on defense.

The JV team swept Saratoga in two sets, 25-17 and 25-22. The varsity also delivered a sweep of the Tigers, though Saratoga did keep the first set a bit closer. The varsity Tigers won their match 25-19, 25-8 and 25-10.

Paige Powell turned in 12 kills and 10 blocks against Saratoga. Sierra Martinez hit five aces against the Panthers Hailey Barkhurst got 10 digs and seven kills in the Panther den.

Saturday, the Lady Tigers hosted a different group of Panthers that had traveled from Cokeville in the far west of the state. Those Panthers, too, were declawed by the Tigers, losing in a sweep match.

The Cokeville Panthers did stick close to the Lady Tigers for the first two sets, with the Tigers winning those 25-21 and 25-16, but eventually the team succumbed and gave up the third set to the Tigers by a resounding 25-9 loss.

FW Broschart

A Cokeville Panther hits the floor trying to defend an Encampment hit.

Nevertheless, O'Leary had praise for the Cokeville Panthers skill. "We struggled with their passes this game but it gave us a chance to figure out how to make those work for us," O'Leary said. "The combination of our hitters' abilities to approach fast and our setters' ability to jump set and bring the ball out of the net allowed us to still be able to run an effective offense."

Martinez nearly did a repeat of her prior days performance against Saratoga with four aces against Cokeville, and 27 assists. Barkhurst came up with 13 digs against Cokeville, with Paige Powell making 16 kills and two blocks.

O'Leary said that while Cokeville had a good passing game, ultimately the Tigers' instinct for playmaking made the difference.

The Encampment Tigers are 18-0 overall and 4-0 in conference play with a little less than a month before the end of the regular season.

The Lady Tigers next attend the Kaycee Invitational in Kaycee Oct. 7-8.


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