Lady Tigers compete at Casper InvitationalSep 24, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
It wasn't an easy weekend for the Lady Tigers of Lander on the floor of the Casper Events Center.
However, it was certainly another learning experience for head coach Marissa Powell and her squad as they competed against five different Class 4-A opponents on Friday and Saturday at the Casper Invitational.
On Friday in pool play, Lander began with a match against Natrona and came away with a 2-0 (25-18, 25-16) loss, as sophomore Abby Renner had seven kills, Ryann Koivupalo 11 assists and Connor LeBeau 10 digs, along with another 10 from Renner.
Next was the Lady Broncs of Sheridan, who prevailed, 2-0 (25-19, 25-21).
Renner again led the Tigers with 10 kills from her outside hitter position, while Koivupalo provided 18 assists and LeBeau had 13 digs.
Finally, Lander closed out preliminary play with a 2-0 (25-15, 25-19) defeat at the hands of Campbell County, as senior LeBeau led with six kills and five digs, while Koivupalo had 15 assists.
On Saturday, the Lady Tigers opened silver bracket play with a match against Green River, with the Wolves winning, 2-0 (25-19, 25-16), as Renner had seven kills, Koivupalo 14 assists and LeBeau 12 digs.
In their last match of the weekend, the Lady Tigers faced Cheyenne South and won a set, but still went down to defeat, 2-1 (19-25, 25-21, 15-12).
LeBeau led with nine kills against the Lady Bison, as Koivupalo contributed 16 assists and Mia Maynard had 15 digs to go with LeBeau's 11 on the match.
No victories on the weekend for Powell's squad, but the Lady Tigers boss was still encouraged at how her team performed, especially against higher-class competition, she said.
"Actually, I though we played pretty well," said Powell. "But, our serve-receive hasn't been good enough and it's an area which definitely hurt us again."
Until results begin coming to fruition in the form of wins on the scoreboard, Powell continues to take note of progress, she said.
"I think we stepped up quite a bit this weekend," said Powell. "Some things we've been working on in practice have begun to show up in matches, like our blockers up front and our passing from the back, which was good to see because if your passing is off, so is your whole offense."
As far as the improvement of the front-line defense is concerned, Powell attributed it to better communication between her players in the heat of battle, she said.
"You have to be able to read the play and can't always watch the ball," said Powell. "Which is why it's so important to keep talking out there."
Lander (1-18, 0-1 Class 3-A Northwest) will next travel to Powell and Cody next Friday and Saturday for a pair of conference matches.