LINGLE – The Lingle-Fort Laramie High School volleyball team picked up a pair of wins to begin the 2022 season in the last week.
The busy opening season stretch began with four games in one day at the home Dogger Invite.
LFL was joined by Niobrara County, Pine Bluffs, Rock River, Hulett, Kaycee, Sundance and Upton for a full day of volleyball action.
The Lady Doggers went 1-3 on the day. The lone win of the day came in the opening match against Upton.
Against Upton, LFL scored the first three points of the opening set and never trailed in the 25-15 win. In the second set, junior Natalie Speckner served up an ace to tie the set at 16, and the Upton Lady Bobcats ended up in the net on the following point to give the Lady Doggers the lead.
In the second set, LFL overcame a 16-12 deficit, scoring 13 of the 15 points to compete the 25-15, 25-18 sweep of Upton.
In the second match of the day, the Lady Doggers faced the Sundance Lady Bulldogs, a Class 2A state semifinalist a year ago.
Lingle came up short in the match, falling 15-25, 26-24, 15-12 to Sundance.
The Lady Bulldogs raced out to a 6-1 lead in the first set for Speckner tallied her first kill of the game to slow the Sundance run. The Lady Doggers eventually tied the match at seven, and an attack error by the visitors gave Lingle the lead.
LFL never trailed for the remainder of the set and looked to carry the momentum into the second set, jumping out to a 6-3 lead after a pair of aces from senior Ashlee Hattan.
Sundance battled back and tied the match at seven, but Lingle never trailed in the set until the very end.
Speckner’s kill gave LFL a 24-22 lead, but Sundance scored the final four points of the set to tie the match at one apiece.
In the third set, the Lady Doggers grabbed a 5-1 lead, but the Lady Bulldogs took the lead at 10-9 and never looked back, handing LFL its first loss of the season.
To wrap up the day, Lingle fell to Kaycee 2-0 (25-17, 25-22) and to Hulett 2-0 (25-22, 25-19).
“I actually looked at the stats afterwards, and I looked at the points the other teams actually earned versus were on our errors and the main thing is we need to clean up our side of the court,” LFL coach Chelsi Jackson said. “If we would have cleaned it up earlier, we would have had all of those teams. I think if we see them again, we’ll have them.”
For the day, Speckner led the team with 20 kills, seven aces and seven blocks. Sophomore Brenly Shipp added 14 kills and five blocks, Senior Kamryn Rafferty had 10 kills and a team-high 11 blocks. Speckner also tallied 28 digs, while senior Maddy Saul added 27. Junior Leah Foster dished out 29 assists, while freshman Skyla Wunder had 16 and senior Baylee Skinner 11.
On Tuesday, the Lady Doggers traveled to Lusk where LFL knocked off Niobrara County 3-1 (25-16, 25-15, 16-25, 25-18).
“I thought they did very well,” Jackson said. “We talked a lot of things we need to work on from the weekend. They really picked those things up and went with it today.”
Lingle used a 7-1 run in the opening set to overcome a 5-2 deficit.
Hattan tied the set at five with an ace, and Wunder gave the Lady Doggers a 6-5 lead with a kill.
Lingle never trailed again until the third set.
In the second set, LFL raced out to a 5-1 lead, cruising to a 10-point set win.
In the third set, the Lady Doggers scored first and held a slim 3-2 advantage before NCHS went on an 11-1 run, forcing Lingle to use both of its timeouts for the set.
“Honestly, we aren’t as in good of shape as we should be yet,” Jackson said. “I think we thought we had it, so we let up a little bit. We have to learn to put them away fast.”
With the Lady Tigers lead 13-4, coming out of a timeout, LFL managed to chip away at the deficit, cutting the Niobrara County lead to 14-9 after a kill from freshman Hallie Fuller.
It proved to be as close as Lingle came to completing the sweep.
In the final set, the Lady Doggers came out, taking an 8-1 lead behind a trio of ace serves from Speckner.
“That was awesome. She’s a great server,” Jackson said. “That’s why we like to start her there. She does what she needs to do.”
Lingle’s lead reached 10-2 before the home team started inching its way back into the set.
The Lady Tigers cut the deficit to 15-8 before a lengthy discussion between game officials and the scorer’s table.
“They tried to say it wasn’t a block and that we held the ball because the girl on the other side of the net didn’t touch it,” Jackson said.
The Lady Doggers were able to fend off the Lady Tigers and pull away for the win in the 2A Southeast Quadrant match.
“We just have to learn how to beat teams quicker and play our speed,” Jackson said. “My girls play a lot faster than the teams we’ve seen so far. If we keep our pace no matter who we play, we’ll be fine.”
Lingle (2-3) will be back in action at the Big Horn Invite on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9-10.