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Lovell , Wyoming
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November 8, 2012     Lovell Chronicle
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November 8, 2012
 

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By Patti Carpenter What a difference a year makes. The Lady Bulldogs had big shoes to fill this season after graduating several of their top players last year like Leanne Winterhol- ler, Erin Robertson, Jodi Walker, Miranda Griffis and Schuylar Davis. With the loss of those players, the team also lost much of its height from the previous season. Only a few girls on the team were in the 5-10 range this year (Emilee Reasch and Bonnie Rodriguez) with the majority of the team averaging somewhere around 5-7 in height. "How different this year was. At one point at the beginning of the year I was just hoping we would make it to State. I would have been happy to make it through Regionals and to get to state," said Coach Stormy Jameson. "No one expected us to win the title this year, especially after ev- erything we lost last year. In a way, it was good because we could exceed the expecta- tion instead of having the pressure on us like we had last year." Not flapped by the naysayers, the girls put their minds to being the best they could be, proving the old adage that practice does make perfect. "There were times we did the same drills every day - we served, we passed, and we knew that this was what we needed to work on because if we couldn't do these things well we couldn't do anything well," said Jameson. "There's really a lot of rep- etition in volleyball. You pass the ball a lot, you set a lot and you hit a lot. We just praC- ticed these things over and over until we got really good at it." According to Jameson, the girls also worked on minimizing their errors. "At the beginning of the year we were missing serves; we were not passing the ball well. We worked on fine-tuning these things all season," said Jameson. "Most- ly we just worked on the basics, we didn't work on anything fancy, we worked on do- ing the basic things well - passing, serving, setting and hitting. It's real simple, if you can pass the ball you can set the ball, if you can set the ball you can hit the ball." The season started off with a tourna-" ment at home Aug. 24-25. At the tourna- ment the girls played Meeteetse (25-12 and 25-9), Ten Sleep (25-7 and 25-7), Burling- ton (25-23 and 25-18), Shoshoni (18-25 and 18-25), Lovell JV (25-18 and 25-15) and Rocky (21- 25, 25-13 and 15-6), beating five of the six teams they played. 'rhe tourna- ment was good prac- tice," said Jameson. "It was good to see what everybody had and it was a good opportuni- ty for the girls to get game experi- ence be- fore their first con- ference game of the season." In their first confer- ence game, the girls played Greybull on Aug. 30, winning three sets 25-21, 25-16 and 25-18. "When we played Greybull, we were kind of where I expected us to be," said Jameson. "We weren't the standout team or anything, but we were good. It was a good conference win, and we expected to beat Greybull." Jameson referred to the next week- end as "the weekend from Hades," after the team travelled to Billings for tournament play against several Montana teams Aug. 31-Sept. 1. "It was a terrible weekend. It didn't matter who we were playing, we just stunk it up," said Jameson. "We had drama on the team all weekend. It seemed like every- one was mad at each other, and it was just an all-around bad time. We had team meet- ings where girls were crying. Afterward, we had to work really hard on trying to fig- ure out what the problem was, solve it and move on." Ultimately, Jameson said the Montana experience benefited the girls because they were able to work out any problems they were experiencing before their next confer- ence game, which was with Thermopolis on Sept. 6. The girls started off strong with a win in the first set 25-18 but couldn't hold that momentum and lost the next three, 26-24, 25-22 and 26-24. %Ve knew they were going to be a good team, we hadn't seen them up to that point, but we knew they had a lot of good girls returning from last year and they usual- ly have good athletes in general on their team. We played well against Thermop, but they beat us," said Jameson. "There was a lot of pressure there, they had a lot of fans there and it was intense." The same weekend, the girls beat five out of six teams at the Big Horn Tournament and Jameson said she felt that it marked a "turning point" for their season. "That weekend we went 5-1, the weekend before (in Mon- tana) we were just the opposite," said Jameson. "I felt that it was a turning point in the season, where we realized that we had a good team." The girls kept their momentum up the following weekend when they played Riverside in Basin on Sept. 14, beating them 25-22, 25-17 and 25-7. On the same weekend, the girls played in a tournament in Thermopolis, where they not only won the tournament, but also got sweet revenge when they beat Thermopolis in the championship game of the tournament on their own turf. The next weekend, the girls went five brutal rounds with Cody. They came on strong winning the first two games 27-25 and 25-17, but couldfi't keep up the mo- mentum, falling to Cody, 22-25, 17-25 and 13-15 in the last three sets. "We played really well that game, con- sidering they are a 3A team with four girls who are around six feet tall," said Jameson, "but it was also a heartbreaker because we felt we could have won that game and we didn't." Next up, the girls got their cage rattled in five close games with local rival Rocky Mountain High School, even though they won. "We kind of went into that game with a mindset that it wouldn't be that tough of a game and they gave us a pretty big wake- up call," said Jameson. The wake-up call she referred to was losing two of those five games 13-25 and 24-26. "After that experience, we made up our minds that it didn't matter who we played, we would always play the same," said Jameson. "Prior to that we would play re- Top: Junior Mercedes Haney blasts the ball over the net during the Oct. 27 champion- ship match. Left: Emilee Reasch slams the bail during the state title match. ally good against a team we perceived to be good, like Cody, but we would play only as good as we need to get by with teams we thought would be easier to beat." On Sept. 29, the girls played Ther- mop again at home. "I don't know what happened there, but we lost," said Jameson. "It wasn't like they beat us, it was more like we just let them win. We just didn't seize the opportunity to win.' .... On Oct. 2, the girls got their re- venge on Rocky beating them 25-15, 25-12 and 25-9. "Before this game we felt like , people were starting to count us out," said Jameson. "In this game we de- cided we had something to prove." Jameson felt the girls were back on track" after the game . with Rocky and they went on to win two more conference wins against Riverside and Greybull before facing Sho- shoni again on Oct. 13 on the Lovell courts. "It was senior night at home, emotions were running high and I wanted all of the se- niors to play in the game so I changed the lineup," said Jameson. "We lost to Sho- shoni, but I think it was important to give all of the senior girls the oppor- tunity to play for the last time on their home court." The girls ended their conference season tied for first place with Thermopolis. Thermop got the higher seed going into Regionals because they beat Lovell twice during the season. "After the regular season ended we fo- cused on having two good weekends, be- cause the team who wins State isn't always the team with the best overall record. It doesn't really matter what you've done all year long, you just have to have three good days of volleyball," said Jameson. "Region- als was kind of the same. Anyone we beat or didn't beat in the past didn't matter, all that mattered was to focus on having a good weekend." After beating Wind River 3-0, the team lost their second match with Shoshoni at Regionals, which put them in a "must-win" situation against Riverside. "We had to win this game; there was not an option to lose. We had to beat Riv- erside to qualify to go to State," said Jameson. Riverside fought hard but the girls pre- vailed and placed third at Regionals after beating Kemmerer in their last game at the tournament. "The whole week between Regionals and State, the girls practiced lousy," said Jameson. "We stunk it up at practice. We tried scrimmaging and it was just ugly. We just didn't practice well at all." Nonetheless, the girls focused on pre- paring themselves mentally. "Volleyball is such a mental game," said Jameson. "We decided that is what we wanted to tweak during that week. There was nothing we could have done new in practice that would change our ability, so we worked on being mentally tough because there is a difference between being physically ready to go and being mentally prepared. It means being to- tally focused on the game." According to Jameson, the girls got the message loud and clear. They were inbed early every night, at the gym early every day and they stepped into the State Champion- ships completely focused and ready to win. "We went into the champion- ships after not winning the conference and not winning the Regionals feeling like people were counting us out," said Jame- son. "In a way we liked being the under- dog. We liked being the upset team who Right: Senior Chelsey Ellis celebrates a point during Lovell's three-game sweep over Big Hom in the state title match. David Peck photos took other teams by surprise." The girls went on to sweep nine straight sets against the three teams they played, beating Southeast, Wright and Big Horn. "We didn't want to lose at all," said Jameson. "If another team wanted to have a spitting contest in the parking lot, we were not going to lose that. Volleyball is a momentum game, if you lose one set, it gives the other team momentum and we were not going to let anyone we played have that momentum." Jameson said she hopes that the win will spark an interest in the town and that more people will attend the games. She also said she hopes more athletic girls at the school will consider playing volleyball. "It used to be that volleyball was some- thing girls did to keep in shape for basket- ball," said Jameson. "I think we've proven in the last two sea- sons that we can produce re- ally good teams and that Lovell can be a volley- ball town, not just a basketball or football town." ............................................................ ================================ - : :" ": -}; " ": "- -':'-':'" --'T-" 7" -':': 7'"-"" : ......... A t