CASPER – The newness of the state tournament Cheyenne Central experienced Thursday afternoon carried over to Friday.
After getting a taste for what it’s like to play on the big stage against Casper Kelly Walsh – a 3-0 loss – in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament, the Lady Indians were dealt another blow less than 24 hours later.
With a shot at continuing their season, the Indians were unable to muster enough offense during a 25-22, 25-17, 25-20 loss to Star Valley in an elimination match Friday afternoon at Casper Events Center.
Central ended its season 17-17.
“We were a truck stuck in second gear, and we just couldn’t shift to get to those higher gears and get going,” Indians coach Maggie Hokanson said.
The Indians came out swinging in the first set and eventually took a 20-18 lead before Star Valley called a timeout. But the Lady Braves (33-6) not only tied it 21-21 but ended the first set on a 5-0 run and stole a 1-0 lead in the match.
“The first set was really close,” Hokanson said.
“I can’t help but think had we gotten that first set like we were headed to do, that the outcome of the match would’ve been different.”
That first-set loss proved deflating for Central. And things spiraled downhill from that point forward.
“We were just really flat the whole game,” Central senior Shelby Murrell said. “We never really found our groove during this match, and that’s unfortunate.
“It was super disappointing to know that we couldn’t fight back, and we didn’t fight back. It was disappointing.”
Murrell posted five kills and three digs in the loss for Central. Reese Bradley led the Indians with eight kills.
Central struggled to contain Star Valley hitter Otessa Olsen, who was a huge factor in helping lift her team to a sweep. She scored an early kill and came up with a block in the second set to help move ahead 2-0 in the match.
Olsen also added an ace serve and another kill to give her team a 20-18 lead in the third set before closing out the match.
“When she swings cross-court, we should be able to take that away, and for whatever reason there were times where we were just struggling getting that block set and getting it closed,” Hokanson said. “When we did block her in that first set, we were doing very well and then our blocks got kind of lax on there. She took control, and she hit (the) line a few times and that kind of discouraged us.
“But then again, we had some good digs on the line, too. We just didn’t have enough of that defense to shut her down in the next two sets.”