Middle Park crushes opponents during League Tournament
East Grand’s lady Panthers have been busy as of late, crushing four different opponents last week as part of the Frontier League Tournament as they prepare for postseason play and the road to a potential state championship.
The girls from Middle Park got to work on the court last Thursday at home with an utterly devastating performance over the Sheridan Rams. The Panthers cruised to an easy victory over the Rams in three quick sets, defeating their opponents 25-4, 25-3 and 25-13 during the first round of the tournament. It was just the first in a string of four straight victories the lady Panthers would see between Thursday and Saturday.
The Panthers continued their efforts Thursday evening with another first round win against the Jefferson Saints, based in Edgewater. The Saints proved a slightly tougher challenge for the Panthers, who still outscored their Front Range opponents 75-34. The first set saw the Saints fall quickly 25-9 before rebounding in the second set, which ended 25-15. The third and final set was more of the same with the Panthers putting the Saints away 25-10.
Middle Park’s third match of the tournament was also held at home in Granby and saw the Panthers pushed by the Denver Science & Tech Stapleton lady Knights, who proved to be a solid challenge for the girls from Granby after demolishing their first round opponents. The first set ended decisively for Middle Park 25-16. The Knights pressed the Panthers in the second set but fell 25-17. The third and final set saw the Knights offer their best effort on offense, and even managed 22 points against the Panthers, but it was too little too late and the match ended with the Panthers taking the set 25-22.
The Panther’s final match of the tournament was against the Bennett Tigers, who the Panthers defeated in another match just over a week earlier. The lady Tigers stunned the girls from Middle Park in their first set, winning round one of the match 23-25. In the second set the Panthers found their sea legs though and returned to form taking the set 25-18. The third set saw the Panthers running the score up on the Tigers before ending 25-13 score. The fourth set was the decisive one though as the Panthers finished the match 25-17.
Senior Bailey Martin led the charge for Middle Park on offense. Over the course of all four matches Martin managed to tally 41 kills. Right behind her was fellow senior Kiera Barr who had 39 kills over the weekend. The two Phillips girls anchored their efforts with senior Harley Phillips recording 27 and junior Sammy Phillips scoring 24. Junior Morgan Shaw also had a solid weekend performance with 22 kills. Rounding out the efforts of the Panthers were freshman Dominyka Reventaite with six kills, junior Haiden Baker with four kills, senior Kaitlin McConnell with three kills, senior Layne Neiberger with two, freshman Katie Trail with two kills and senior Lexi Blixt with one.
From the server’s spot Blixt led the Panthers, scoring 19 aces against her four different opponents. Both Sammy Phillips and Barr were a bit behind her with each young lady recording nine aces over the weekend. Neiberger was close behind and posted seven aces during the Frontier Tournament while Harley Phillips put up five aces during the league contest. The rest of the Panthers aces during the tournament were served by Martin, with three, senior Natalie Stubbs, with two, Shaw, with one, and senior Shayna Hickox with one.
Blixt was also the leading defender for the Panthers during the tournament and prevented numerous points with her 50 digs. Barr was also a force on defense and posted 42 digs during all four matches. Neiberger was a bit further back but still recorded 27 digs over the weekend. The two Phillips girls tied with both Harley and Sammy posting 17 digs against their league opponents. Shaw backed them up with 13 digs of her own. Rounding out the Panther’s defensive efforts were Hickox and Stubbs with two each and Trial and Baker with one each.
Middle Park’s undefeated effort during the league tournament last weekend extended their winning streak to nine and pushed their overall record to 17-2. The ladies also sport a perfect 12-0 league record. Middle Park’s volleyball girls are currently ranked 15th in the state in class 3A according to the website Maxpreps. The Panthers are ranked directly behind the Bennett Tigers, who the Panthers have already defeated twice this year.
After last weekend’s tournament the Panthers now have their sights set on this weekend’s Buena Vista Tournament with three different matches, against Olathe, Buena Vista and Grand valley, scheduled for Saturday in Buena Vista.
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