Lady Buffs out of sync at State

Nathan Oster

Drop a pair of five-setters

One of Greybull High School’s best volleyball seasons in recent memory ended in disappointing fashion last weekend when the Lady Buffs dropped a pair of five-set heartbreakers at the state tournament in Casper.
The girls rolled into the Oil City with momentum, having gone undefeated in conference play and won the Class 2A West Regional, where they reached top form, losing just a single set while winning nine.
But they weren’t able to repeat it at state, losing their opener to Pine Bluffs by scores of 23-25, 25-22, 31-29, 12-25, 7-15 on Thursday evening and a loser-out match to Shoshoni by scores of 25-22, 30-32, 25-11, 18-25, 14-16 on Friday afternoon.
Coach Sara Schlattmann said neither she nor her team underestimated Pine Bluffs, citing the quality of play in the East.
“I just felt like we were out of sync,” she said of the five-set loss. “The girls were playing their hearts out, but with a bit of hesitation in their belief that they could win. 
“We knew that we needed to play with low errors, but unfortunately we just struggled to play our game and  we had an abundance of errors spread throughout our serving, passing and attack.  Despite that, we didn’t give up and played a hard-fought match.” 
Leading the attack was Aleksey McColloch with 17 kills, Kelsie McColloch had 15 kills, Kennedy Craft had 8 kills and Perla Rodriquez had 7 kills.  Aleksey and Perla each had 7 blocks. 
“You don’t get those kills without a hard-working setter,” she added, commending Chaise Benasky on her 41 assists.
Caroline Boyer led the way with passing and digging, getting 18 digs and serving 94%.  Josselyn Jara and Kelsie McColloch each served 100% and Aleksey McColloch was 94% as well.  Ashley Gomez really stepped up her blocking with 4 stuff blocks.
The loss dropped the Lady Buffs into a loser-out game against Shoshoni, a team they’d swept in conference play and beaten the week before in Riverton.  The two teams split the first two sets, with Greybull winning the first and Shoshoni taking the marathon second.
The Lady Buffs appeared to be righting the ship.  They easily won the third set and were up 8-4 in the fourth when Kelsie McColloch injured her shoulder diving to keep the ball alive.  Shoshoni scored 21 of the next 35 points to take the fourth set, then won it in the fifth.
“Again, we seemed to play a bit hesitant and when we needed to be aggressive, it felt like we were trying to play it safe,” said Schlattmann. “Add to that, having Kelsie McColloch go out injured was certainly a large impact. 
“I want to commend all the girls that stepped up and came in to give it their all.  Fatima Chavez and Julie Lopez came in cold and served 100%.  Camila Acuna and Ellie Holloway both stepped up to help on the outside after Kelsie left the match and there is no harder job than having to step in like that.  I was very proud of them.”
Kelsie McColloch still paced the team in kills, with 13.  Aleksey McColloch and Kennedy Craft followed with 10 apiece and Perla Rodriguez had 9.  Benasky had 40 assists and was 100% from the service line.  Jara, Craft and Boyer served at 90% or better, too.  In digs, Boyer led with 24, followed by Craft with 9 and Jara with 7.
“As a coach, I was disappointed in my ability to manage the matches, particularly the Shoshoni contest, and I take credit for the loss,” said Schlattmann. “I did not prepare them well enough mentally for the challenge that state presents.  In hindsight, I needed to make some lineup adjustments for them in game five, but I played it safe too.  These are the moments as a coach that you wish you could get back and have a do-over for.”
While it wasn’t the ending anyone had in mind, it will still go down as a great season, said Schlattmann. “We had a great group of athletes and fantastic support base with parents and fans cheering us on at every match.  It was by far the funnest season I have coached.
“I want to thank the community, parents and most importantly these athletes for their dedication to our team and this sport.  We are losing a great group of seniors, who I have had the pleasure to coach these past three years.”
The list includes Kelsie McColloch, Gomez, Jara, Benasky, Craft and Boyer. 
“There are big shoes to fill,” she continued, “but I am excited for the group that is returning because they are talented and coachable and that makes it all worth it.”