The Valier Panther volleyball squad went 1-3 at last weekend’s District 6-C Tournament to wrap up their 2020 season.
The Panthers opened with the Cascade Badgers, a team they had defeated both times during the regular season, and dropped the first set 26-24. Valier came back to take the second game 25-20 to even things up before the Badgers took the net two sets, 25-19, 25-19, to take the match.
Erica Ramsey led the Panther defense with 21 digs and also added five kills and three aces. Skylar Connelly followed with 15 digs and six blocks and Hannah Monroe tallied 12 digs, six kills and led the way with four aces. Madi Weikum also recorded six kills in the loss. Kylie Christiaens led the team with nine assists followed by Kinley Kovatch with seven.
“We played well with them but they had figured out how to get around our middle blocks and take our serves,” said head coach Kadie Briggs. “They shut our middle hitters down and we had to rely more on our outside attacks.”
Following the loss the Panthers took on Sunburst in a loser out match where they swept the Refiners 26-24, 25-10, 25-23.
Monroe led the attack with 11 kills while also recording five digs and four aces. Kovatch and Connelly tallied five kills each while Kovatch also dished out 14 assists to go with seven aces and six digs. Christiaens recorded nine assists and Ramsey had nine digs and four aces in the match.
“We had a great serving game with 19 aces and had 30 kills,” said Briggs, highlighting Kovatch’s performance at the service line and Monroe’s powerful attacks on the outside. “Our serve receive and digging really helped to shut Sunburst down as we did not allow too many errors on that front.”
Next up for the Panthers was Simms and the Panthers took a quick 25-13 win in the first set. Simms battled back in the second set 27-25. The teams went back and forth in the next two sets with Valier winning 25-19 in the third and Simms taking a 26-24 win in the fourth. The Panthers ran out of gas in the deciding fifth set and the Tigers took the 15-6 win.
Ramsey was a force at the net with 16 kills while also recording 12 digs. Connelly and Monroe also notched double digit digs with 15 and 11, respectively. Connelly also tallied seven kills followed by Monroe with six. Weikum led the team at the service line with eight aces. Kovatch dished out 15 assists in the loss followed by Christiaens with 12.
“We had a great service game using some of the younger girls on the bench to help in keeping our service percentages up,” said Briggs. “Simms is an attacking team and we had 76 digs but it wasn’t enough to overcome them. They struggled to shut down Erica Ramsey but in the fifth game they got a jump on us and our lack of conditioning from our quarantine time off started to show and we just couldn’t execute at the end.”
The Panthers played a fourth game against Power for a potential alternate spot at the Northern “C” Tournament if a team was forced out due to potential Covid issues.
The Pirates took the opening two games 25-18, 25-22 before Valier battled back to take the next two 25-15, 25-21, to force a deciding fifth set. The Panthers couldn’t overcome tired legs at the end as they fell 15-11 in their season final.
Ramsey picked up 20 of the teams’ 80 digs in the match followed by Connelly who had 19 and also led with 10 kills. Monroe had 13 digs and nine kills while Ramsey followed with seven. Kovatch had 16 assists in the loss while Christiaens followed with eight and Hannah St. Goddard recorded five. Kovatch also led the team with three blocks. Weikum led the team with four aces in the loss followed by Connelly’s 3 and St. Goddard with two.
“We will never know the full fallout that having to take two weeks off did at such a crucial time of our season,” said Briggs. “Yet, our girls made the most of it and worked hard to keep up with some very competitive teams this season. By tournaments our serve-receive average as a team was the highest of the season. Our setters moved the ball around more and we had more hitters give us numbers.”
Briggs concluded, “We have a lot to be proud of as we ended this unconventional season as a team that found strengths beyond the court.”