Headed to State: Lady Grizz runners up at regionals

Ryan Fitzmaurice

It all came together for the Rocky Mountain volleyball team in the regional tournament last weekend, with the team reaching the championship game and placing second.


The Lady Grizz toppled top ranked Kemmerer to reach the title contest, but found themselves outgunned against their old rivals Greybull in the championship game.

“We had some good games at Regionals and came out with a second-place finish,” head coach Stephanie Ames said. “We’ve worked a lot on consistency and we’ve improved, but we still need to improve in that area.”

First came Wyoming Indian.

The Lady Chiefs found themselves up against a red hot Rocky team in the first round as Rocky Mountain took the match three sets to none, 25-20, 25-19, 25-12. 

“It can be hard to play them in volleyball because their style is much slower than the typical team.  Sometimes that can slow our side down, as well, which did happen on some level for us,” Ames said. “Ultimately, we came away with the first round win in three sets and advanced to play Friday night.”

MacKelle Moss led the team offensively with 10 kills, Lauren Bassett had eight kills, Kaitey Christensen four,  Brittly Boettcher three. 

Shelby Wambeke led the team with 16 assists, Keylee Christiansen had five, Rylee Winland recorded three.

Layla Garder had five aces in the matchup, Bassett had four. 

Gardner also led the team in digs with 11. Boettcher had nine, Wambeke had eight, Moss five. 

Moss had four bock assists, Bassett had three assists and Boettcher had one solo block.

The Lady Grizz  next faced the Southwest top seed Kemmerer, but despite the Rangers’ lofty stature, the Lady Grizz found little to be intimidated by. It was a late-night match, tipping off at 10 p.m. 

They soon took control of the first set, securing momentum. Up 14-12, the team scored five points in a row, with both Moss and Bassett getting kills in the stretch, to take the team up to 19-12.  Rocky continued on to win the first set 25-18. 

And then, they did it again. With the second set tied 12-12, the Lady Grizz went on a four-point streak to bring the match to 16-12. Again, the team never let the lead go and were suddenly up two sets to none on the Rangers, with the team also winning the second set 25-18.

The Rangers showed resistance in a dominant third set of their own, taking a 10-2 lead  on the way to a 25-17 set in their favor.

But, in the fourth set, the Lady Grizz sealed their path to the championship. A 9-5 lead soon turned into a 16-5 lead as the Lady Grizz found an inspired resurgence. They won the match three sets to one with a 25-15 fourth set. 

“Kemmerer was an entirely different kind of game from the first one, more fast paced and scrappy,” Ames said. “This was a pretty fun game as the girls played well together and produced some great results.”

Boettcher led the team with 10 kills, Wambeke had nine, Bassett and Christensen seven. Moss had six kills in the contest.

Wambeke recorded 17 assists in the match. Christiansen wasn’t far behind her with 14. Bassett had four assists.

Christiansen led with four aces, Bassett and Wambeke had two, Moss and Gardner had one

Boettcher led the team with 19 digs, Gardner had 17. Wambeke recorded 11, Christiansen 10, Bassett 9, Moss 8. 

Moss, Christensen and Boettcher all had one solo block. Bassett, Moss, Christensen and Winland had two block assists each. 

Saturday’s championship match against Greybull did not go Rocky’s way, although in the first two sets the team was more than competitive. 

After Greybull came out to a 19-10 lead in the first set, the Lady Grizz surged back to bring the match to 22-18.  Their momentum stalled as Greybull finished the set with three points of their own, ending it at 25-18.

The second set was a back-and-forth affair. After a Boettcher spike gave the Grizz a 19-18 lead, Greybull scored the next four points to bring the score to 22-19.

Another Boettcher spike brought the Grizz to within 22-20, and a Bassett spike narrowed the gap to 22-21. A Christensen kill on the next play tied the score 22-22. 

But Rocky let go at the last moment as Greybull held strong to finish the set with three straight points. Rocky dropped the second set 25-22.

“The championship against Greybull was a much better game for us than the score showed. Sometimes it works that way. We did a lot of things really well and were close in the first two sets. We came from behind a couple times and were just a little behind the 25 mark,” Ames said. “That said, we contained their hitting pretty well those first two sets. We got them out of their comfort zone and threw off that part of their game a little, which is huge. 

“They have some amazing hitters and blockers, and we were able to do what it took to slow them down. I was very encouraged by our first two sets and felt like we were on a roll to very possibly take the third,” Ames continued.

But, the Grizz found very little left in their tank, as Greybull brought the match to a definitive conclusion in a 25-8 third set.

“For some reason we fell completely flat and only scored eight in that set,” Ames said.  “I still haven’t quite figured out what went so sideways on that.”

Moss led with six kills, Boettcher had five, Bassett and Christensen had four.

Wambeke had 11 assists, Christiansen had seven. 

Bassett, Christiansen, Boettcher and Wambeke had one ace each.

Bassett and Gardner both had 10 digs, Boettcher had seven, Moss and Wambeke both recorded five.

Bassett and Moss both had four block assists. Christensen recorded two. 

“We were pleased with our overall performance this weekend. It was great to be in the championship game for the second year in a row,” Ames said. “We are very excited to get to State, where we will take on a big rival in Tongue River. We’ve watched a lot of film and made some changes to our game plan in hopes of picking up a win on Thursday.”

That Tongue River match will begin today (Thursday) at 2:30 p.m. as the Lady Grizz begin their campaign at the state tournament in Casper.

If they win the game, they will next play Friday at 4:30 p.m. against the winner of Big Horn and Big Piney.

If they lose, they will play at 1 p.m. on Friday against the loser of Big Horn and Big Piney.