Lovell JV netters celebrate successful season

The Lovell High School Junior Varsity 1 volleyball team recently concluded a highly successful season that saw the Lady Bulldogs forge a 19-3 record. Coach Jennifer Hessenthaler this week presented the following season summary:

• North Big Horn Invitational: We went 3-0, beating Meeteetse, Greybull and Dubois. This was a good first tournament. It helped us ease into our rotation and see what was going to work well and what we still needed to work on.

• Rawlins Tournament, 5-1: This is the only tournament we get to see all the 3A teams in the state. We beat Pinedale, Torrington and Buffalo in pool play, which put us in the gold bracket on Saturday. We beat Moorcroft and Worland, then lost to Mountain View in the gold bracket championship. We beat them handily in the first set, 21-14, then they beat us 21-11. In the third set both teams played really well and showed true grit. They beat us 16-14. The JV girls were very disappointed with the loss, but I was really proud of how they played. We played with a different lineup on Friday than we did on Saturday, and the girls adjusted well pretty well. We learned from this loss and
set a goal to beat Mountain View at Conference Duals.

• Regular season: We went 11-2. We were undefeated in our conference. In most matches we won in two games. Teams we beat in regular season: Worland (twice), Thermopolis (twice), Greybull, Tongue River and Powell (twice). We lost to Cody in three sets. 19-25, 25-20, 25-16. Cody is a very talented team. We made more errors than
typical of our team, but it was a good game. Cody is a team I would love to play again. It was a fun, competitive game. 

• Conference Duals (which is part of our regular season record): We went 3-1. We beat Lander, Lyman and Mountain View, and lost to Pinedale.

Conference duals was held in Powell this year. This is where we meet with all the teams in our conference and play the teams from the other side of the conference. We achieved our season long goal of beating Mountain View in two sets. It was 25-23 both sets. It was a really competitive volleyball game with lots of long rallies. We knew we were going to have to play a solid game with few errors. Our goal was to miss fewer than three serves and minimize unforced errors. The girls met both goals, and we were thrilled to walk away with the win.

We turned around that same day and lost to Pinedale, which was very disappointing. This was the only loss during the season where I felt we got beat because we didn’t play our best. I was trying to play a little different lineup because some of the JV girls needed to play varsity. It was just enough different to make them lose confidence, and that doesn’t work with volleyball. Volleyball is such a mental game. If you second guess yourself as a player, you hesitate, and it throws off the game.

We came back the next day and beat Lyman and Lander. The Lyman game was more competitive than the Lander game, but both of those teams are scrappy. Our girls took care of business, still angry about the loss the night before, and played amazing volleyball. I did not
have to do very much coaching that day because they were all on. 

Thoughts after
the season 

I am really proud of these girls. Early on in the season I was worried about some of our rotations in serve receive and defense. When we played Mountain View in Rawlins, they exposed every single weakness we had. The girls learned a lot from this loss. We knew we needed to have a team of girls who were able to play their position confidently. I feel confident that every girl grew into their role and developed into solid players.

These girls are very goal driven and did well with coaches pushing them to be better. As a team we set goals every game. Consistently we set a goal to miss fewer than three serves in a game. In our best serving game we only missed one serve. We also set goals to minimize unforced errors, with minimal hitting errors and not getting out hustled. 

Before every game they put their phones away and did some team bonding. These girls made me very happy. I loved watching them play.

All of these girls ended up being on the varsity roster for Regionals. They played their role as bench players very well and were very supportive of their teammates.