Lady Panther netters come up just short at Granby tournament, end season |

Lady Panther netters come up just short at Granby tournament, end season

Will Bublitz
Grand County, Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

Giving it everything they had, the Lady Panther volleyball players battled to advance in the playoffs but fell short during the District 3 Volleyball Championships in Middle Park High’s gym in Granby, Colorado, on Friday.

After the daylong tournament ended, Middle Park’s spikers had taken third place after losing matches to Holy Family and University, who finished first and second respectively. The Lady Panthers won their match against Bishop Machebeuf, who finished in fourth place.

To advance to the regionals, the Lady Panthers needed to finish in the top two spots. Their third-place finish in the district tournament ends their 2008 season.

“I’m very proud of how hard our girls played in this tournament,” said coach Kris Newberry. “We had a great season, but it feels like it ended much too abruptly.”

The loss at districts follows the Middle Park team’s victory at the Frontier League Championships on Friday, Oct. 18, when the Lady Panthers won the league title.

Friday’s district tournament opened in spectacular fashion for the Lady Panthers, who powered to a three-game match victory over Bishop Machebeuf by scores of 25-17, 25-21 and 25-16.

“That match was a good warmup and confidence builder for our girls,” Newberry said. “They play very steady all around.”

The team’s offense was in fine form with several kills, including 9 by Elsa Krieg, 7 each by Shannan Stensvad and Anna Conrad, 6 by Cheyenne Hickox and 3 by Quincey Pedersen.

Krieg posted her best blocking stats of the season with 11 blocks against Machebeuf. Hickox and Madison Zolnir had 2 assists while Conrad, Pedersen and Stensvad had 1 assist block each.

“Our front row really controlled the net, which is why we didn’t have a lot of digs in this match,” Newberry said. The digs that were earned include 9 by Conrad, 7 by Chelsea Comer-Lang and 6 by Stensvad.

In serving, Conrad earned 4 aces. Pedersen and Krieg earned 2 each, and Comer-Lang made 1.

While Middle Park dominated the morning match against Machebeuf, it was an entirely different story against University in the early afternoon.

During the first two games, the Lady Panthers fell to their opponents by close scores of 25-21 and 25-23. Finally rallying, Middle Park players came back to win the third game 25-19. However, they could not sustain the momentum going into the fourth game and lost 25-17.

“We came into this match knowing it was a must-win situation,” Newberry said. “When we got down, our girls did not play tentatively but kept on swinging. University is a good solid team that didn’t make many mistakes.”

Krieg led the offense with 15 kills, followed closely by Conrad with 13. Stensvad earned 7 kills while Hickox, Pedersen and Zolnir made 3 apiece.

The Lady Panthers also put up a good defensive fight. In blocking, Krieg had 2 solo and 4 assists while Pedersen made 3 assists, Hickox 2 and Conrad 1. In digs, Comer-Lang posted 18, Conrad 17, Pedersen 11 and Stensvad 6.

With a win and a loss, the Lady Panthers knew that it was crunch time in Friday’s tournament as they prepared to take on Holy Family’s Tigers.

“We knew it was do-or-die, win-it-or-go-home,” Newberry said. “Our girls came into it fired up and worked hard, but Holy Family is a tough team and they came out swinging too.”

Middle Park fell to Holy Family in the first game by a score of 25-15, but came back strongly to win the second game 25-22.

However, in the third game, the Lady Panthers looked as if they had run out of steam and fell to Holy Family by a lopsided score of 25-10. In the fourth and final game, Middle Park held the lead for much of the play, but the Tigers finally surged ahead to win it 25-21.

“In that second game, we won it with heart and desire,” Newberry said. “But in that third game, we got rattled and lost our focus. But what I’m most proud of is that our girls did not fold in the fourth game when things got tough. They held in there and fought to the end.”

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