The Powell Lady Panthers learned how tough volleyball regionals will be when they headed to Lander Friday and Saturday for the 3A West Conference Duals.
The Lady Panthers, the No. 5 team in the state and 3A Northwest quadrant leaders, faced off with the four teams of the 3A Southwest quadrant — two of which are state-ranked — and went 1-3 for the weekend.
“This was a great weekend to see what areas we still need work on and how much the Southwest teams have improved,” said PHS head coach Randi Bonander.
Powell (14-11-1) lost to Pinedale 25-21, 18-25, 18-25, 25-22, 15-11 and to fourth-ranked Mountain View 25-21, 25-22, 25-20 on Friday. The Lady Panthers then opened Saturday with a 25-22, 25-11, 25-17 loss to top-ranked and undefeated Lyman before concluding the duals with a 25-14, 25-13, 25-13 win over Big Piney.
Rachel Bonander had 11 kills against Pinedale, while Aubrie Stenerson had 10 kills and 24 digs and Hartly Thorington added nine kills, nine digs and four aces. Ashtyn Heny led the Powell defense with 25 digs, while Natalie Ostermiller added 25 assists and Gabi Metzler had 12 digs and 10 assists.
“The first match against Pinedale went five sets, which was a great improvement for us compared to our first meeting at the Riverton Invitational at the beginning of the season, when they swept us in two sets,” coach Bonander said. “We were able to block their talented outside hitter and also dig more of their attacks this time around.”
Thorington had 10 kills against Mountain View, while Stenerson added nine and Rachel Bonander had six. Ostermiller had 15 assists and three aces, while Heny led the way with 21 digs. Stenerson had 16 digs and Thorington added 15.
“They always have a strong team with a quick defense and a really consistent setter,” coach Bonander said of Mountain View. “They took us in three sets, but all of them were close the entire way through. The one aspect we struggled with was closing the point spread after they went ahead at the beginning of the sets. This was one of our strong areas, so it brought into focus the specific areas we need to stay focused on in the next couple of weeks.”
Thorington had five kills and seven digs against Lyman, while Metzler added eight assists and eight digs. Stenerson had nine digs and Heny added eight, while Thorington and Metzler each had a pair of aces.
“We knew what to expect and came close to a win in the first set, but then we lost some steam in the second and third sets, which gave them the match win,” coach Bonander said of Lyman.
Thorington had 11 kills and five aces against Big Piney, while Metzler added 14 assists and Ostermiller dished off 10 assists and Jazlyn Haney had three aces. Stenerson and Heny each had 11 digs, while Metzler added seven.
“[Big Piney] has a scrappy volleyball team that doesn’t give up no matter the point spread,” coach Bonander said. “We beat them in three, which was a nice finish to the weekend. The ladies are ready to buckle in for the next two weeks to prepare for regionals and the teams we will meet again that weekend.”
The Lady Panthers return to the court this evening (Tuesday) with a 3A Northwest quadrant contest at Worland before returning home Thursday evening to take on 3A Northwest rival Lander Valley.
“[Worland] beat Lander recently, so [they] are making improvements even after the loss of their senior middle hitter,” coach Bonander said. “They are hosting a Pink Out night and Worland always has a huge home crowd, so we have to be ready for the noise and atmosphere so we can keep our focus on the game.”