Lady Panther Volleyball leads 3A Northwest Quadrant

By Breanne Thiel

The Powell High School varsity volleyball team beat Lovell in three sets on Friday, September 21st which places them first in the 3A Northwest Quadrant having a 3-0 quadrant record. The Lady Panthers have a 10-7 overall record after their loss to Billings West on Tuesday, September 15th.

Head coach Randi Bonander said that the Lady Panther volleyball team has been practicing coming back from deficits.

“It’s really important in volleyball because it is such a mentally challenging game to be able to do that, not only when there is a small deficit, but especially when there is a large one like in the second set,” said coach Bonander who was referencing the second set of the Billings West game where the Lady Panthers lost 25-8.

Against Billings West, the Lady Panthers also lost the first 26-24 and the third 25-22.

The coach said that the practicing of coming back from deficits and the ability to come back from losing by 17 points in one set to lose by three in the next set “really speaks to their mental toughness and team culture.”

Also in reference to the mental toughness and team culture of the Lady Panther volleyball team, Coach Bonander said the morning of the game “we found out we wouldn’t have our Junior setter Gabi Metzler due to a medical issue, so our rotation was a little different, but the girls took on the challenge of that moment.”

The coach also said that a tough part of playing in Billings, Montana is playing “their home court rules,” as Montana has different rules such as sets 3, 4 and 5 only go to 15 points instead of 25 as well as different rules in regards to blocking and crossing the plain of the net.

“But we have to be able to work through challenges like that to compete at the state level,” coach Bonander said.

Versus the Lady Bulldogs, the Lady Panthers won the game in three sets with scores 25-13, 25-21 and 25-15.

The win puts the Lady Panthers first in the 3A Northwest Quadrant with a 3-0 record by also having wins over Worland and Lander.

Worland is second in the quadrant with a 2-1 record, Lander is third posting a 2-1 record and Lovell is third having a 0-3 record.

The coach said that “Ashtyn Heny has been our serving leader since the beginning of the year, so it doesn’t surprise me that she was able to serve us back into the game for the win. Ashtyn also has the highest serve rating on the team.”

“Jasmyne [Lensgrav] is a scrappy player. She works hard not to let a ball drop, communicating on and off the court, and she didn’t miss any of her four serves during the match,” coach Bonander said.

For Aubrie Stenerson, Rachel Bonander, Hartly Thorington, Devon Curtis and Jazlyn Haney, the coach said that they “are all ready to do the job at hand during the match, whether it be set to another hitter, block and cover, or sending the ball over with a kill.  They work well together, because they celebrate each other’s success, but will also pick up the slack when one of them is struggling.”

Coach Bonander said that having a 3-0 record “is a new feeling for us,” while adding that the team is ready to “get back to work because everyone else is improving so we have to push ourselves to prepare for Conference Duals.”

The Lady Panthers will be competing at the Conference Duals in Lander on Friday, October 5th and Saturday, October 6th. At this tournament nearly all of the teams in the conference will be there to compete.

Lady Panther Volleyball 2-0 in Conference

By Breanne Thiel

The Powell High School varsity volleyball team opens the conference portion of the season 2-0 with wins against Lander on the Lady Tigers home court on Friday, September 14th and and at home versus Worland on Saturday, September 15th.

“After the Rawlins tourney we discussed the areas that we needed to focus on this week which were serving, communication, and moving on after mistakes,” said head coach Randi Bonander. “I think they looked great in all three areas.”

The coach pointed out that the Lady Panthers increased their serving percentage to 92 percent against Lander and 95 percent against Worland.

Coach Bonander also stated that “communication was at a high level which was evident in their effort to keep a rally from ending on our side. Finally we were able to move on from mistakes, gather ourselves and then focus on the next task.”

Against Lander, Powell won the game in three sets with scores of 25-23 for the first and second set and 25-17 for the third.

Hartly Thorington led the team in kills having nine followed by Jazlyn Haney with nine and both Rachel Bonander and Aubrie Stenerson with eight apiece.

For blocks, Bonander led having four of the teams total of eight.

The Lady Panthers also won the game in three sets against the Lady Warriors. The first set was won 25-18 and the second two 25-16.

Thorington also led in kills against the Lady Warriors having 10 followed by Bonander with six, Stenerson with three and Haney with one.

In blocking, Haney led having three of the teams total of eight.

For both games Stenerson had a team high of 21 digs, followed by Natalie Ostermiller with 13 and Ashtyn Heny with 12.

Hartly Thorington led the team in aces with seven followed by Stenerson with four.

Lady Panther Volleyball Place Fourth in Gold Bracket of Rawlins Invite

By Breanne Thiel

The Powell High School varsity volleyball team placed fourth in the Gold Bracket of the Rawlins Invitational that took place on Friday, September 7th and Saturday, September 8th. A total of 16 teams competed at the invite.

“It was a great weekend at Rawlins for us as a team,” said head coach Randi Bonander of the invite.

Friday’s games were conducted in a two game pool play meaning that the overall win/loss record determined whether or not the teams competed in the Gold or Silver Bracket on Saturday.

The Lady Panthers beat Newcastle and Wheatland and split with Lyman on Friday which placed them in second place for the Gold Bracket for Saturday.

The first game on Saturday was against Douglas where the Lady Panthers won in two sets, 21-13 and 21-15.

“The girls communication, vision of the court on offense, and our blocking and coverage on defense was our best so far this season,” said coach Bonander who added that “we made mistakes, but definitely were able to come back from them to keep the momentum going our way.”

The second game was against Pinedale and the Lady Panthers lost in two sets, 21-16 and 21-18.

The Lady Panthers then played Rawlins for third/fourth place, losing in two sets (21-10 and 21-8) to finish fourth overall.

Coach Bonander said that “Pinedale, Rawlins, Douglas, Lyman, and Mountain View all have strong teams. But no one in our conference or region should be overlooked.”

The 16 teams who competed were: Rawlins, Burns, Wheatland, Torrington, Newcastle, Douglas, Buffalo, Thermopolis, Powell, Lovell, Worland, Lander, Pinedale, Big Piney, Mountain View and Lyman.

“We just keep focusing on the things we are doing well and trying to make them better along with areas that need improvement. It seems that right now we are strong in different areas in every match we play but that’s OK because we are at the beginning of the season and have time to keep working toward bringing all those strengths together in every match by the end of the season,” the coach said.

JV Volleyball Place Second in Gold Bracket at Rawlins Invite

By Breanne Thiel

The Powell High School junior varsity volleyball competed at the Rawlins Invitational where they advanced to the championship match of the gold bracket on Friday, September 7th and Saturday, September 8th.

“I was really proud on the improvements of our team,” said junior varsity coach Tasha Miller. “It was great to see the little things that each girl has been working on individually and how it came together for the whole team.”

The Lady Panthers played a total of three games on Friday with the first opponent being Newcastle.

“We had a rough start in the first set against them, having a lot of errors all around, but still managed to pull off the win,” said Miller adding that is “always hard getting off the bus and getting ready to play after a long drive. Heading into the second set the girls were able to pull it together and we had a lot less errors!”

Powell beat Newcastle in two sets, 21-19 and 21-12.

The second opponent was Lyman.

“Lyman is a great team so I was excited to play a very competitive match,” Miller said. “My girls played great we just couldn’t quite pull off the win, but I was very proud at how well they played.”

Lyman won in two sets 20-21 and 17-21.

Friday’s last match of the day was against Wheatland and Powell won 21-13 and 21-11.

“We had very little errors so it made the match go quick,” said Miller.

Friday’s tournament record determined which bracket the teams would play in on Saturday and Powell’s 2-1 record placed them in the Gold Bracket.

The first game of the Gold Bracket was against Mountain View which went to three sets.

Powell won the first match 21-12, lost the second 21-17 and came back in the third to win 15-10.

The win over Mountain View placed the Lady Panthers against Lander

“We struggled in the first set to get things going,” Miller said of the 21-19 loss in the first set.. “Then we were able to pull it together and play our game.”

The Lady Panthers won the next two sets 21-10 and 15-8 to win the game.

The win over the Lady Tigers placed the Lady Panthers in the championship game against Lyman.

“I knew it was going to be a battle,” said Miller. “I was so proud of how well the girls had played against them the day before and thought since this was the championship game and we knew what to expect, it would be a great match. Unfortunately, we didn’t come out ready to play and handed them the game.”

Powell lost to Lyman in two sets, 21-7 and 21-14.

For the tournament as a whole, Miller said that overall she “was proud of the improvements we made!”

Rose Graft led the weekend in kills with 20, Mattie Larsen followed with 19, both Sabrina Shoopman and Gabby Harshman had 12 and Paije Johnson had 11.

Graft also led in blocks with seven solos, followed by Shoopman with six solos and Harshman with five solos.

Madi Fields led the team with eight ace serves for the weekend, followed by Harshman with six and Paije Johnson with five.

Miller said the back row “had some great passes and digs over the weekend.  Michele Wagner, who was my setter last year, has stepped into my libero spot and has done a phenomenal job for our team. I’m excited to see us continue to grow and improve over the season!”

On the Road with Lady Panther Volleyball

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.

Riverton Invite

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.”

Thermopolis Game

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.”