Lady Rustlers fight bravely, lose to CasperOct 6, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
A recurring theme this season for the Lady Rustlers of Central Wyoming College has been to be right there with their opponents, only to let it slip away.
In its last home match on Sept. 27 against Western Wyoming Community College, head coach Darshaya Gallard's club was up two sets to none, before letting the Lady Mustangs come back for a five-set win.
Although the script wasn't written as dramatically on Thursday at Rustler Gym, the result was the same in a 3-1 (25-23, 25-18, 24-26, 25-21) loss to the Lady Thunderbirds.
But, this time after losing the first two sets, it was the home side who fought back in the third set, taking a hard-fought 26-24 victory.
Central quickly fell behind, 4-0, but fought back with an 8-0 run to gain an 8-4 advantage, as Kayla Coles pounded a pair of powerful kills and Naz Sahin was on fire with three aces.
Another ace by Tamara Lukic to go with one from Coles and the Rustlers' lead was 14-6.
However, Casper came back with an 8-2 run of its own, cutting the Central lead to 16-15.
But, the Thunderbirds could never surge ahead, as kills by Lukic, Coles and Barkhurst were punctuated by a pair from middle blocker Jensen Paris, who smashed home the set-winner.
The fourth set was just as hotly-contested, as the visitors were desperate to close out the contest, while the home squad fought to remain alive.
Coles continued her assault on the Casper defense, with another pair of kills, as Central led as late as 16-15, but the Thunderbirds' resolve remained steadfast, as they went on to secure victory after taking a late-set lead.
Coles had 14 kills on the match, but it was Barkhurst and her 11 who had a breakout performance, said Gallard.
"Alyssa came out and shined tonight," she said. "She'll be one of our outside hitters in the future."
Another Rustler who garnered praise from her coach was Paris, who has stepped up in recent matches to give Central an added presence along with Coles in the middle.
"Jensen's the kind of player who's really nice to have," said Gallard. "She does a good job of balancing out Kayla."
Rylie Haderlie led Central with eight assists, while Burmester and Brooklenn Thompson each had 13 digs on the evening.
However, the continued bugaboo of her squad losing its composure remains a cause of concern for Gallard, she said.
"We did some great things tonight, as far as fighting back," said Gallard. "But, we weren't good enough and we need to be more consistent."
Gallard noted she has the horses to run with, but the belief needs to be there.
"These other teams aren't more talented than we are," she said. "We just need the desire to win and have to believe in ourselves."
Central (4-13, 1-5 Region IX North) will next host Sheridan College on Saturday at 3 p.m.