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Volleyball: Panther spikers end season in pool play

by Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

The dreams of Middle Park High’s volleyball players to earn a berth to the state championships in November were shattered by losses in district pool play last Thursday.

Played at Holy Family High School in Broomfield, the district pool play saw the Lady Panthers fall in matches to both Bishop Machebeuf and Holy Family.

The losses ended Middle Park’s 2007 season.

“It was a frustrating way to end our season,” said coach Kris Newberry. “I’m afraid we didn’t play up to our potential.”

As pool play began Thursday, the Lady Panthers squared off against the Buffalos of Bishop Machebeuf.

“I was a must-win deal for us,” Newberry said. “We had beaten Machebeuf in the regular season by three games.”

In the first game, the Buffalos took an early lead, but the Lady Panthers battled back to win it 26-24.

“We’re usually not a good first-game team because we always get off to a slow start,” Newberry said.

Having made a comeback to win that first game, Middle Park may have hoped they were over the tough part of the match. But it proved otherwise as the Lady Panthers’ play faltered while the Buffalos surged ahead strongly to win the next three games by lopsided scores of 25-11, 25-11 and 25-18.

“We struggled with our setting, passing, serving ” everything,” Newberry said. “We made error after error in those last three games of the match.”

Middle Park’s offense was led by Hannah Brinkmann, who posted 18 attacks plus seven kills. She was followed by Elsa Krieg with 12 attacks plus eight kills. Anna Conrad and Shannan Stensvad had four kills apiece while Amelia Nicol had one.

Newberry praised Krieg, Nina Palm and Cassie Strang for being “perfect in serving by not missing a serve.” Stensvad earned two aces while Palm and Conrad made one each.

Palm was the team’s “digs” leader, earning 19 for the match. Strang, who is one of the team’s two setters, made 12 digs, which Newberry described as “amazing” for a setter.

Adding to the dig stats were Stensvad with 10, Brinkmann with nine, Conrad with six, Krieg with four and Nicol with one. In blocking, Krieg posted two while Nicol had one.

Strang earned 13 assists for the Machebeuf match while Conrad had five, Krieg two, and Mallory Nutting and Palm one apiece.

With a loss in Thursday’s first match, the Lady Panthers knew they were in a do-or-die situation going into their second match. In that match, they would have to face the Tigers of Holy Family.

“This was the decisive match with our season on the line,” Newberry said. “We knew that Holy Family was beatable if we played our best.”

But it did not happen. Middle Park fell in three games by scores of 25-14, 25-7 and 25-16.

“We just could not get it together,” Newberry said.

Brinkmann and Conrad were perfect in serving. Brinkmann also made 14 attacks while Stensvad had 13. In kills, Krieg earned six, followed by Nicol with three, Brinkmann and Stensvad with two, and Conrad with one.

“We kept swinging, but it seemed we could not find a hole in the court,” Newberry said.

In the stats for digs, Palm led with nine while Strang made eight and Brinkmann seven. Krieg, Stensvad and Quincey Pedersen had three digs apiece while Conrad and Nicol made two each. Cheyenne Hickox came off the bench to make one block.

Strang was the leader in assists with 11. Palm and Conrad had one each.

“It’s always sad when the season ends in the playoffs,” Newberry said. “It’s not as disappointing to lose when you play well, but to end the season when you didn’t play up to your potential can be heartbreaking.”

“It was a tough season, but we gained some good experience in some tough matches,” Newberry added. “Our younger players developed their skills and that gives us great optimism for the future of this team. We’ve got some talented kids coming up.”

As part of the effort to prepare for next season, Newberry said plans are in the works to revive the local volleyball club to provide off-season training opportunities.

Now that its this season is over, Middle Park High’s volleyball program wants to express its thanks for all the support it received over the past few months.

“We want to thank all the parents for their help and support,” Newberry said. “Also thanks to Mike Wirsing who put on some setting classes for us as well as Father Michael for his technical input and support.

“A big thank you goes to Jim Glenn for his announcing at our home matches and to Marlo Klassen, our athletic director. And I can’t forget to thank my assistant coaches, Amy Griest and Peter Butrymovich for all their hard work this season.”

With the end of their 2007 season, the Lady Panthers are saying goodbye to their seniors ” Hannah Brinkmann, Amelia Nicol, Nina Palm and Cassie Strang.


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