Lady Panthers take No. 2 seed in 1A West

Saratoga girls fall to Cokeville in championship round, secure place at State Championship


November 6, 2019

Photo courtesy Liz Wood

Back row, from left, Olivia Everret, Jaden Campbell, Assistant Coach Amy Johnston, Jenna Dew, Shelby Knotwell, Whitney Bennett, Taylor Bennett, Aubrey Berger, Lexi Herring, Tasia Daley, Savannah Wells and Head Coach Shayley Love. Front row, from left, Makiyah Johnson, Kylee Conseen, Kelly Glode and Samantha Duke.

The Saratoga Lady Panthers left the regional tournament with a number two seed, but not without a fight against the Cokeville Lady Panthers. The Saratoga Lady Panthers held their own in three sets against the two-time state champions. The second match of the set let the Cokeville Lady Panthers know not to take the Saratoga Lady Panther for granted.

"I am really proud of them," Saratoga Volleyball Coach Shayley Love said. "No one in 1A has gotten into the 20s against Cokeville. I think the (Saratoga) girls scared them."

The Saratoga Lady Panthers had a hard time keeping up with Cokeville in the first set. By the time Cokeville had scored nine points to Saratoga's three, the Saratoga ladies stepped up their game and started to score. With hard hitters Aubrey Berger, Jenna Dew and Taylor Bennett at the front, they managed to get a few kills in against Cokeville. Whitney Bennett was quick on her feet on the blocks trying to go for the save. Cokeville overpowered the Saratoga team and won the first match 11-25, but not without several rallies.

In the second match, the Saratoga Panthers took the lead right away after a quick rally. Tasia Daley gaining the first point. Bennett nabbed the second point with a kill that went straight through the Cokeville's defense.

The Saratoga Panthers used that lead to pull four points ahead of Cokeville, which had the Saratoga crowd cheering them on. The Saratoga Panthers would keep the lead until Cokeville tied the match at seven points. The teams would match point-to-point until Saratoga pulled out a three-point lead 15 to 12. Cokeville would tie the score once again. Saratoga kept fighting and the score was 18-19 before Cokeville would take the lead. Saratoga stepped it up once again and kept the score tied to 23 points.

Despite their effort, the Saratoga Panthers fell 23 to 25 to Cokeville.

The third match started off much like the second, but with Cokeville scoring the first two points. Saratoga quickly caught up and tied the score at two points. Cokeville then scored seven unanswered points taking the wind out of the Saratoga girls.

Cokeville was ahead 16 to 5 when Love called a timeout. The Saratoga Panthers rebounded and gained another five points, but not enough to stave off the Cokeville Panthers who took the game 10-25.

Love advised the Saratoga team they needed to speed everything up and get to the ball fast to compete against Cokeville during the timeout. "I am very proud of them," Love said again. She added the team members are disappointed in themselves when they make a mistake. She encourages them to move past the mistakes and play their best.

The Saratoga Panthers finished second at the 1A West Regional Tournament in Riverton and advances to state. The Saratoga Panthers will play Hanna Elk Mountain Medicine Bow (HEM) at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. HEM finished as the third seed in the 1A East Regional Tournament.

Photo courtesy Liz Wood

Lexi Herring moves quickly to return the ball against Cokeville.


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