SHERIDAN — The Sheridan College team is playing its best volleyball of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Lady Generals kept their season alive with two victories Friday in the Region IX Tournament at the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome.
With a loss meaning the end of their year together, the Lady Generals won both matches in four sets. They first took down Eastern Wyoming College 25-18, 21-25, 25-14, 25-21, and then defeated Western Wyoming College 25-17, 27-25, 18-25, 25-20.
Sheridan head coach Jennifer Stadler said the team played at a consistently high level both offensively and defensively throughout the day, and showed tremendous defensive effort.
The first two sets against Eastern Wyoming were relatively even, but Sheridan imposed its will in the latter part of the third frame.
Up 12-9, the Lady Generals hitting came to life, propelling them to an easy win in the set. Miranda Koch had an excellent performance and led the way with 12 kills and two blocks.
Against the Lady Mustangs, who Sheridan also beat in the first round Wednesday in four sets, the Lady Generals came out blazing and breezed to a first-set victory. Up 8-2 thanks to great plays at the net, Sheridan kept it going. They passed well, setting up hitters both in the middle and outside. Miranda Gallagher dominated at the net all night, tallying 13 kills and five blocks.
The second set against Western Wyoming was a nail-biter. Neither team was up by more than four points, and there were several lead changes. Sheridan had an egalitarian offense approach for most of the day, but when push came to shove toward the end of the set, Ashlee Purcella delivered. Tied at 25, she had two consecutive kills to give the Lady Generals a commanding two-set lead.
Stadler said the team has been spreading the offense around lately to make sure everybody’s available to hit at all times, making the Lady Generals harder to beat.
The third set was a dud for Sheridan, as the Lady Generals came out flat and never quite recovered. They trailed 9-20 at one point due to a plethora of errors and miscommunication. To the Lady Mustangs’ credit, they came out desperate, showing great energy and offensive skill.
The roles were reversed in the fourth set, as Sheridan woke up and went up 9-6 early, thanks again to outside hitting from Purcella and Kiahlei Yaste. The Lady Mustangs made several errors, compounding their deficit to go down 19-10. Sheridan did not allow them to dig out of that hole, and finished the match, on a kill from Purcella.
The Lady Generals had Western Wyoming’s number all season. They beat the Lady Mustangs twice last month and defeated them twice this week.
Stadler believes the players still have another level to reach, and said they can do so tomorrow. This is the first time in Stadler’s seven-year tenure that the team has played in the final day of the Region IX Tournament.
Laramie County Community College is already in the championship, as they are 3-0 as the one seed thus far. Sheridan plays Northwest College tomorrow to get a shot at LCCC, one of the top NJCAA teams. The Lady Trappers defeated the Lady Generals in their two previous matches, winning in straight sets at Torrington in September and in five sets in Sheridan three weeks ago.
The Lady Generals play Northwest at noon Saturday at the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome. The winner faces LCCC at 2 p.m.