THERMOPOLIS – The Lady Punchers experienced lows and highs at the 2022 Bobcat Invitational hosted by Thermopolis on Friday, Sept. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 1.
The busy two-day event featured pool play on Friday and Saturday as opponents battled to win the best of three sets played to 21 points. On Saturday afternoon, teams entered bracket play, vying for the best of three sets played to 25 points.
Opening the action with a bang on Friday, the Lady Punchers trounced their host, the Thermopolis Lady Bobcats, in a clean sweep, 2-0.
Big Piney then fell to 1A non-conference opponent, Encampment, 2-0, later Friday morning. Squaring off against 2A Northwest Conference rival the Shoshoni Lady Wranglers that afternoon, Big Piney lost, 2-0, followed by 2-0 defeat to 1A Little Snake River.
Hitting the court with a clean slate on Saturday morning, Big Piney dug deep and beat 1A Burlington, 2-0, in the final game of pool play.
Advancing to the silver bracket, the Lady Punchers took on Shoshoni again. On Friday, the Shoshoni Lady Wranglers handily won both sets. While Shoshoni ultimately won the second show down, 2-1, Big Piney demonstrated marked improvement, winning the first set and holding its own in the second set.
Head Coach Kinsy Voss said the team performed well over a long, hectic weekend of competition.
“We beat Thermopolis to start out the tournament,” she said. “It was a good game and we came out making corrections we needed to. We weren’t able to get any more wins that day, but did beat Burlington Saturday morning. We ended up taking Shoshoni to three sets in bracket play, but lost. Our back row defense wasn’t what it usually is and we struggled there. Hannah Runyan and Shelby Guest stepped up as our senior leaders and really found their game this weekend. We gained confidence and made some rotations and look to be on the right path now.”
Big Piney scored first in the opening set against Thermopolis on Friday morning. Senior Audree Sevenski made a dig and passed the ball to senior Sharianne Brower. Brower set up the ball for sophomore Micah Strong to spike a kill.
Strong set the ball over for point 3. Senior Brynne Hoffman served up a point. Strong and Guest covered the court and Guest delivered a point. Hoffman served a pair of aces.
The Lady Bobcats struck the net returning a hit by Brower. Strong powered over a kill off a dig by Sevenski and a set by Brower.
Guest dug deep to score point 10. Thermopolis tangled with the net responding to a serve by Strong. Guest slammed down a kill, assisted by Brower.
Sevenski served up two points. Thermopolis aimed the ball out returning a tip by Runyan. Guest aced point 17. The Bobcats served into the net and Runyan scored on a serve.
Senior Brittany Tatum reached up for a block. The Bobcats attempted a serve but tangled with the net, allowing Big Piney to score game point, 21-19.
The Lady Punchers dominated a majority of the second set against the Lady Bobcats. Thermopolis struck out returning a serve by Guest. Tatum spiked over the second point. Runyan delivered a kill, assisted by Sevenski and Brower. Strong swung over a pair of points. Runyan aced two serves.
Freshman Kodee Greene defended the net with a block. Thermopolis edged up and tied the set at 9 points until they struck out responding to a serve by Hoffman.
The Lady Bobcats sent a serve into the net and Big Piney pulled back into the lead. Guest powered over two points. Thermopolis failed to return a serve by Strong.
Runyan made a block and Guest tipped over a point. Guest powered over a kill, following a dig by Sevenski and set by Brower. Strong bumped the ball to Guest and Guest spiked it over the net.
Strong spiked a point and Big Piney scored game point, 21-14, on a serve by Guest.
The Lady Punchers played 1A non-conference opponent Encampment in the subsequent game. Encampment won a close first set, 21-19, followed by a 21-10 win in the second set.
On Friday afternoon, Big Piney challenged 2A rival Shoshoni on the court. The Lady Wranglers overpowered the Lady Punchers in both sets – 21-8, and 21-10.
Friday’s competition closed out with Big Piney falling to Little Snake River in two sets, 21-15 and 21-9.
Rallying on Saturday, the Lady Punchers defeated 1A Burlington, 2-0. Individual set scores were not available at press time.
Big Piney’s victories against Thermopolis and Burlington propelled it into the silver bracket on Saturday afternoon where the Lady Punchers battled Shoshoni to a tie-breaking third set.
Big Piney scored first in the opening set against the Lady Wranglers with a pair of kills by Runyan. Runyan whipped up an ace. Greene and Tatum scored points defending the net.
Shoshoni tied the set at point 5 but struck the net returning a serve by Greene. Hoffman served over a point before the Lady Wranglers again tied the set at point 8. Guest slammed over a hit and Sevenski served a point to pull Big Piney back into the lead.
Runyan spiked a point and made a block. Guest scored a pair of kills, assisted by Strong and Brower. Brower served up point 15 and Runyan pulled out another kill.
Tatum defended the net with a block. Runyan scored twice while serving. Greene set the ball over for point 21 following a deep dig by Guest.
The Lady Wranglers came up short responding to hits by Strong and Brower. Runyan made a block for point 24 and Tatum reached up to defend the net for game point, 25-18.
Big Piney took an early initiative in the second set when Shoshoni served into the net. Runyan scored a kill, assisted by Brower, and then served a point. Tatum powered over a kill, assisted by Brower. Guest spiked a pair of points over the net. Sevenski aced her serve and Runyan tipped over a point.
The Lady Wranglers managed to catch up with Big Piney at point 10 and pulled into the lead where they remained until game point, 25-16. The Lady Punchers scored early in the third set, with hits by Runyan, Guest and Greene, though Shoshoni managed to regain the lead and score game point, 15-8.
The Lady Punchers travel for a rematch against conference rival Kemmerer on Thursday, Oct. 6. Junior varsity play at 5 p.m. and varsity play at 6 p.m.