Tigers roll past Rattlers in three sets
By Thorn Compton
ENCAMPMENT — Friday featured a big-time matchup between the Encampment and Little Snake River Valley High School volleyball teams, but the Tigers proved why they are the number one team in the state at 1A this season.
They took out the Rattlers in three sets, 25-13, 25-15, 26-24.
LSRV head coach Ann Wille said her team just didn’t quite play up to the level of Encampment.
“I didn’t think we competed the first two sets, it was obvious,” Wille said. “We hit the ball in the net, hit the ball out of bounds, and that’s not how we practiced all week.”
For Encampment, head coach Robin O’Leary was just pleased with the mental fortitude her team showed.
“During our timeouts I complemented our team on their play,” O’Leary said. “They just showed an amazing mental toughness and skill level tonight.”
The Tigers were all over the floor, especially during the first two sets. Any time they had to save a ball that went out of bounds, Encampment was able to get the ball back in play and generally make a good return to the Rattlers.
Wille said her team just didn’t have the right attitude when playing against a team the quality of Encampment.
“You have to play tough at all times when you play the number one team in the state and we didn’t do that,” Wille said. “You’ve got to learn how to compete, we have a different team this year with some young kids but we have to compete.”
While the first two sets weren’t great for Little Snake, they did do a great job competing in the third set.
The Rattlers actually had the lead late in the set, up 23-22, but they couldn’t keep the Tigers down as Encampment eventually took the set and the match.
“When we were down we didn’t panic,” O’Leary said. “I trust them to play through those situations and they do.”
For the Rattlers, this was both their first game in conference play and their first game outside of a tournament scenario. Wille said while her team had a hard time keeping up against the Tigers, they still maintained a positive attitude.
“I don’t think they ever got down, but they all need to learn we need to be competitive at all times,” Wille said. “This was good for us, we know what we did wrong and we will work on those things.”
It wasn’t the first full-set game for Encampment, who played a match against Walden, Colo., last week, but this was still the first match for O’Leary’s squad against the only team that beat them last year.
“I was confident in my team heading in but not in the outcome,” O’Leary said. “I know we have weaknesses but Baggs is just a solid program and you can’t be overly confident coming against them.”
Both the Tigers and Rattlers have quick turnarounds for their next matches.
LSRV looks to get back in the win column as they take on Saratoga on Saturday. The Panthers were actually in the stands for the game against Encampment and have played Little Snake once already in the Saratoga Tournament last month.
Encampment travels to Hanna to play in the HEM Tournament against some of the best 1A teams in the state, including fellow unbeaten Lingle-Fort Laramie.
“Lingle will be a big one for us,” O’Leary said.
The Rattlers and Panthers meet up at 1 p.m., while the Tigers leave for Hanna at 7:15 a.m. and kick off the tournament at 9 a.m.