CASPER – The Lingle-Fort Laramie Lady Doggers went 1-2 at the 1A State Tournament over the weekend, reaching the semi-finals of the consolation bracket before suffering their second loss.
“Getting to state was great,” coach Barb Clark said. “I never doubted that we would make it. The game against Dubois was disappointing because I truly feel that we should have won it. However, Dubois had different plans.”
L-FL began the tournament with a thrilling five-set match against Dubois, the fourth seed from the west. The Lady Doggers came to play, running out to a 7-2 lead. Back-to-back aces by Paige Forkner added to the Lady Dogger lead (14-5) and a Jordan Hunt kill continued the hot start, growing the lead to 19-7. Three-straight errors by Dubois ended the first set, 25-12.
The Lady Doggers continued their hot start into the second set, taking an early 4-1 lead before Dubois rattled off seven points in a row, flipping the advantage to 8-4. A tip by Amanda Riley tied the set at 10, before Forkner strung together three aces, taking a 13-10 lead.
L-FL upped its lead to six points four times in the set, including to close out the set. Riley and Jordyn Gaspers scored two of the final three points of the set on kills, helping the Lady Doggers seal a 25-17 win.
“Dubois struggled the first two games and we played ok,” Clark said. “The next three games Dubois found their game and we didn’t play as well as we have all season and were unable to hold them off.”
The third set was closer than the first two. L-FL and Dubois were tied at two and three, before the Lady Rams scored six in a row to form a 9-3 lead. The Lady Doggers continually clawed away at the lead and came back to tie the set at 16. L-FL had two different two-point leads late in the set (19-17 and 21-19), but with the set tied at 23, Dubois had back-to-back kills to close out the 25-23 win.
Dubois picked up in the fourth where they left off from the third, taking a 6-0 lead over L-FL. The Lady Doggers struggled to keep pace with the Lady Rams but found their way back into the set after Riley scored two of three points with kills to knot the score at 15. Another kill by Riley tied the set again at 20, but then Dubois closed out the set on a 5-2 run, winning 25-22 to force a fifth set to decide the winner.
The Lady Doggers scored the first point of the fifth set and looked to continue to build on their momentum after a Riley kill put L-FL up 8-3. Dubois scored 5-of-7 to tie the set at 10, forcing a Lady Dogger timeout. Returning to the court, the two teams traded points until the set stood at 13 apiece. The Lady Rams finished the set with a kill and a block to win, 15-13, winning the match.
“The last three games were close and we should have been able to pull out one of them for the win,” Clark said. “We served incredibly well against Dubois going 105-of-107. Unfortunately, we didn’t pass as well as we have this season and that created trouble with our offense.”
Jade Cooper had a stat line to remember, finishing the match with two aces, three kills, 33 assists and 41 digs. Her assists and digs were both team-highs. Forkner was second on the team in assists, with nine in the game, which she combined with a block, 11 digs and a team-high three aces.
Riley paced L-FL in kills, racking up 16 in the win. She also accounted for two blocks, an ace and 17 digs. Ashley Riley chipped in seven kills, a block and 14 digs of her own.
Gaspers and Hunt combined for three aces and 13 kills, while Gaspers was second on the team with 24 digs and Hunt chipped in 13.
The close loss dropped L-FL to the consolation bracket, where it battled for third-place. The first opponent in the lower bracket was Kaycee, the third seed from the east. The Lady Doggers replicated results from the regional tournament a weekend ago, winning over the Lady Buckaroos in three sets. L-FL won the first set 25-13, before winning the next two by a score of 25-16.
“Our second game was very similar to the game we played at regionals against Kaycee,” Clark said. “We played well and were able to get the lead early and keep it.”
Amanda Riley, with nine, and Ashley Riley, with seven, led the Lady Doggers in kills in the win. Amanda also had an ace, four blocks and 13 digs, while Ashley kicked in two aces and six digs. Cooper paced the team in digs, with 20, and assists, with 21, while also chipping in two aces and two kills.
Gaspers kicked in 18 digs in the win, along with three kills and an ace, while Forkner, Hunt and Kalli Nichol combined for six kills, five assists, a block and 16 digs.
Winning kept the Lady Doggers’ season alive, where they advanced to take on Little Snake River, the west’s No. 3 seed. L-FL came out slow, losing the first set 25-14 and second set 25-15. In the third set, the Lady Doggers fought to keep their season alive, but eventually fell 25-23.
“Against Little Snake River, we played fairly well. We just seemed a little hesitant and not as aggressive as we have against other strong teams this year,” Clark said. “Finally, in the third set we started playing point for point with them and kept the score even until the final two points.”
Amanda Riley was the only Lady Dogger with double-digit kills, with 10. She also had three blocks and nine digs.
Ashley Riley, Hunt and Gaspers all had three kills apiece. Gaspers and Hunt also had seven digs each, while Ashley added five. Hunt recorded a block in the loss.
Cooper had the only ace for the Lady Doggers, while leading the team in assists (17) and digs (16). She also had two kills and a block. Forkner finished the contest with three assists, two blocks and five digs and Nichol kicked in a kill and four digs of her own.
“We made some great hustle plays and some really smart net plays,” Clark said. “We were able to make them make some changes to their offense because we dug their line shots well.”
Cokeville won the 1A State Championship in five sets over Encampment, while Little Snake River finished third over Rock River. The Lady Doggers finished the season with a 19-11 record.
“This season was great fun. The girls were great to work with and played so well together,” Clark said. “The younger girls stepped up to fill spots and make us an overall competitive team. My seniors did an excellent job of leading all year and making the younger girls feel welcome.”