Lady Pioneers off to a solid start
September 12, 2019
TEN SLEEP - Normally, the first quarter of the season Ten Sleep High School volleyball is spent building chemistry and learning the ropes. This year the Lady Pioneers have gotten off to a decent start with last week's win over 1A Northwest rival St. Stephens.
"We played well," said TSHS volleyball coach Desiree Egger. "It was the first time we played with six this season and we were planning and practicing like we were going to play with five. Josie Decker didn't even practice with us on Thursday but she gave it a go for the game. I was really proud of how the team went with the flow and transitioned to playing with six.
"The other thing is, they know St. Stephens is going to go to 2A next year, so they wanted to make a point that we're still good enough and weren't going to get walked over."
Decker has been mending a leg injury to start the season but the freshman gutted it out and was able to play in the Lady Pioneers matches against St. Stephens on Friday, Sept. 6 and Kaycee on Sept. 7; allowing the team to play with a full roster for the first time this season.
In Ten Sleep's 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-11) win over St. Stephens, not only did they control the match they showed impressive resolve on the road. In Game 2, the Lady Pioneers were down 6-0 to start and in the past, this signaled nothing good was about to follow. But little by little, they chipped away at the Lady Eagles' lead before taking the lead for good.
"We were down six in the second and it felt like 'uh-oh', here we go. But they did a good job of getting the ball back whenever I called a timeout. We didn't have any long rallies but it was just a few here and a few there. They fought really hard to get back into it and it was impressive," said Egger.
The Lady Pioneers were on the road again the following day, traveling to Kaycee for a match against the Lady Buckaroos. Coming off such a big win against St. Stephens took some of the spark from Ten Sleep as they didn't have the same sharpness to their game, versus Kaycee.
The Lady Pioneers lost 3-0 (25-17, 25-16, 25-15) to the Lady Buckaroos but Egger figures the loss was a good teaching moment for her players; in that when it comes to road matches and the second match of a back-to-back, establishing routines are good and that they need to find ways to carry over their high-energy play.
"We didn't fare as well in Kaycee. The girls were a little flat. I think it's like an adrenaline dump when you come off a game like St. Stephens. Especially, when you factor in how bad we played in St. Stephens last year. Winning like we did was a big thing for us
"When we got to Kaycee we had some girls forget their shoes and their knee pads. That should have been the first hint that things might not go well. They didn't play bad, they just weren't as crisp and let a lot of passes get away from them. Just wasn't our best game but it was a good learning moment for us," said Egger.
With exactly six players, Ten Sleep has needed freshmen Decker and Kinley Anderson to play in roles beyond their years and to their credit, both have stepped up and contributed. "The freshmen are coming in and having to play varsity right away and they've already made some great strides," said Egger.
Egger credits her team's leadership for bringing Anderson and Decker along. Seniors Bryley Moore and Anna Watson and junior Payton Casteel have been great on- and off-the-court leaders for the Lady Pioneers.
"Payton has really stepped up big for us this year, defensively she's on it. We're running a 6-3 this year and setting for us a little. She's really coming along and a good leader for us. She's always positive and encouraging her teammates to shake off a mistake," said Egger.
This week Ten Sleep will be in Meeteetse for the Longhorn invitational. They'll get to scope out most of their conference competition but what Egger wants her team focusing on the most is improving their coverage.
"I don't want them dwelling on the win-loss of the tournament. We'll see most of our conference there too but I don't want them worried about how they do against Burlington or Meeteetse. Nailing down our coverage is going to be huge. Against Kaycee we didn't cover as well as we did in St. Stephens," said Egger.