By Breanne Thiel
The Powell High School varsity volleyball team opened the season on the road competing at the Riverton Invitational, traveled to Thermopolis and competed in Cody at the MT/WY Border War posting an overall record of 6-4.
The Riverton Invite on August 24th and 25th consisted of five games against Riveron, Wind River, Thermopolis, Big Piney and Pinedale.
“I knew [the invite] would be challenging in that, the girls would need time to get the first game jitters out, get comfortable in their positions and the lineup in an actual game,” said head coach Randi Bonander. “Our communication was lacking at times which showed against the better teams like Riverton and Pinedale.”
Powell’s first game of the invitational was against the hosting school, Riverton.
Riverton won in two sets 21-15 and 21-15.
The Lady Panthers rebounded to win the next three games versus Wind River (21-14, 21-14), Thermopolis (21-13 and 21-17) and Big Piney (21-7 and 21-8)
The fifth and final game of the invite was a loss to Pinedale in two sets, 21-11 and 21-16.
After the tournament, coach Bonander said that the team now “knows what we need to work on in practice to be more aggressive and consistent throughout an entire set and match.
The coach also added that the Lady Panther volleyball team “is a talented and hard working group of young ladies.”
After the Riverton Invite, the Lady Panthers traveled to play Thermopolis on the Lady Bobcats home court on August 28th.
Coach Bonader said that the Lady Panthers were ready for a rematch against the Thermopolis having played them just four days earlier and said that Thermopolis has “a strong program.”
Powell won the game in three sets, 25-15, 25-11 and 27-25.
Aubrie Stenerson led the team in Ace serves having seven, both Hartly Thorington and Rachel Bonander had four and having two apiece was Jasmyne Lensgrav and Gabi Metzler.
Natalie Ostermiller led the team in digs with seven, Lensegrav had six, Sternson five and Ashtyn Heny had four.
MT/WY Border War
The Lady Panthers then traveled to play in Cody at the MT/WY Border War on Friday, August 31st and Saturday, September 1.
“The Border Wars were a great opportunity for us to play full matches and test our conditioning limits,” said coach Bonander adding “it gives us a glimpse into what we need to do to prepare for regular season matches.”
At the MT/WY Border War five sets are played per game which is different from most tournaments in that three sets are traditionally played.
Powell played in four games against Billings Senior, Laurel, Miles City and Sidney.
The Lady Panthers lost the game in four sets. Sets scores were Billings Central winning the first 25-16, the second 25-12 and the fourth 25-12. Powell won the third set 27-25.
For digs, Stenerson led with nine, Heny had eight, Ostermiller completed seven, Lensegrav had six and having five each were Thornington and Rachel Bonander.
The second game was versus Laurel where the game went to five sets.
The Lady Panthers won the first set 25-22 but Laurel camp back to win the second 25-22.
And continuing the scoring trend, Powell won the third set 25-22.
The fourth and fifth set was won by Laurel 25-13 and 15-12.
Against the Lady Locomotives, Sternson led Powell in digs having 22, Ostermiller had 19, having 15 was Heny and Rachel Bonander had 12.
Stenerson also led in ace serves with five and Thronington had three.
“We came out playing much more aggressive against Laurel than we did against Billings Central,” said coach Bonander.
Then on Saturday, Powell played Miles City first.
Coach Bonader said Powell “came out playing our aggressive game.”
The Lady Panthers won against the Cowgirls in four sets winning the first set 25-13 and the second 25-14.
Miles City fought back in the third set to win 25-19.
The fourth set was a battle between both teams with the Lady Panthers coming away with the 27-25 win.
The fourth and final game of the MT/WY Border War was against Sidney which also went to four sets.
Sidney won the first game 25-21 but the Lady Panthers rebounded to win the next three sets, 25-14, 25-19 and 25-19.
Leading the team with 15 digs each was Heny and Ostermiller and having 10 was Thorington.
For ace serves, Heny had five, Rachel Bonander competed four, and Metzler had three.
“Overall, the weekend was important for us because we were able to communicate consistently which allows us to come back from losing a set,” said coach Bonader adding that “it is also important because it plays into the mental side of the game which shows the girls that it’s ok to make mistakes as long as we can then make adjustments to fix them, during or in between sets. This will go a long way during the season, especially with the level of teams that we will compete within our conference, and region.”
To be competitive this season the coach also said that “we have to keep our serving percentage above 90% and closer to 95%. Our passing percentage has to increase and be more consistent also.”
This Friday and Saturday (September 7th and 8th), the Lady Panthers will travel to compete in the Rawlins Invitational.
“The girls are focused and ready for another challenge this weekend in Rawlins,” said coach Bonander adding that the Lady Panthers “will see teams from each Region in 3A this weekend.”