A little drama played out in Riverton at the 3A West Regional tournament over the weekend, as the host team took down one of the No. 1 seeds in Star Valley to open the event, but for the Cody volleyball team, the first two matchups went pretty much as planned.
The Fillies took down Evanston in straight sets 25-11, 25-19 and 25-10 in the opening round, and then rolled Riverton 25-15, 25-21 and 25-8 on Friday, setting up their third meeting with top-ranked Kelly Walsh, this time for the regional championship and No. 1 seed out of the West at state.
The Casper team continued to be the proverbial thorn in the side of the Fillies, however, as the Lady Trojans got past Cody in straight sets 25-20, 25-18 and 25-18 to earn a top seed at state and take the regional crown.
“The girls are feeling pretty good overall,” coach Nicole Gwynn said. “We were all pretty disappointed in the KW loss, but mostly because we felt we could have played better.”
The Fillies had their opportunities in each set on Saturday against the Lady Trojans, even as KW appeared to be firing on all cylinders.
Kelly Walsh jumped out to a quick 8-3 lead, but Ava Meier and Molly Hays combined for a big block, and Kenzie Ratcliff sent a little tap over the net where nobody was home and the Fillies started to get a little momentum.
The Lady Trojans answered right back, however, stretching the lead to 11-5 before a timeout by the Fillies.
Reece Niemann and Ratcliff came out of the timeout with big kills.
Ava Nelson added a kill and Hays an ace to keep to within striking distance, but the Lady Trojans again began to pull away.
Nelson added another kill to help stop the KW run and suddenly the Fillies were down by just 18-16 and playing with some momentum.
“There is no doubt that KW is extremely talented,” Nelson said. “But playing them is making our team better as a whole.”
The Filly run forced KW into a timeout, after which the Lady Trojans finished the Fillies off in the opening set on a 7-4 run to close things out 25-20.
Cody couldn’t have asked for a much better start to the second set, as a diving dig by Alora Nunn helped tie things up early.
A block by Meier and Hays helped put the Fillies up 4-2.
Kelly Walsh struggled to handle a Hays serve, and after a tip and score by Meier the Lady Trojans needed a quick timeout to regroup as they trailed 7-4.
An ace from Hays added another point to the lead, but KW did what they needed to do to battle back, reeling off six consecutive points to go up 10-8.
“They are just a really aggressive team in general,” Hays said. “When they are in their system it’s hard to stop them.”
Big serves by Kennedi Niemann and another block by Nelson helped tie things back up at 12-12, but again KW put together a run to go up 20-13, getting kills from well behind the net and not allowing the Fillies the chance to get any good looks of their own.
“We seem to bring out the best in Kelly Walsh,” Gwynn said. “We take that as a compliment, but it’s hard to get over that hill.”
The Fillies were basically point-for-point with KW after trailing by seven, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Lady Trojans secured the 20-18 win.
Cody had to fight from behind a little in the third set after KW jumped out to the 4-1 lead, but playing from behind against the Lady Trojans isn’t something many teams have had success with this season as KW pulled out another 25-18 win to take the regional title.
Cody will head to Casper this weekend as the No. 2 seed in a field loaded with quality teams.
They take on Natrona County to start things out on Thursday. Those Fillies beat a talented Thunder Basin team to lock down the No. 3 seed out of the East, and are the only team to defeat Kelly Walsh this season after 17 consecutive losses to the Lady Trojans.
“We are hoping we can see Kelly Walsh one last time this season in the championship, and we want to upset them and come away with the win,” Nelson said.