On what seemed like the first day of winter, the Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Lady Braves hosted the Chamberlain Cubs and McLaughlin Mustangs to a friendly triangular volleyball get-together.
In the first match of the afternoon, it was the Braves against the Cubs. The Braves already had one dance with Cubs back on September 18 at the Big Dakota Conference Volleyball Tournament in Fort Pierre where the Cubs beat them in three sets: 25 to 22, 18 to 25, and 20 to 25.
Coming into the match the Cubs sported a 4-14 overall record and the Braves an 8-16 record and an 8-game losing streak; so it was anyone’s guess who would have the upper hand in the opening round.
In the first set, the Braves came out hot and had the Cubs down 5 to 0 before they put a point on the scoreboard. Leading the way on offense was Lauryn Keckler with three kills and Ahmyli Clark racking up four aces; but more impressive was the fact she got all four aces in a row.
Defensively they stopped anything the Cubs banged over the net both up front and on the backline. Ahmyli Clark led the way, digging balls up and setting up the frontline to thoroughly dominate. They won the first set 25 to 9 through an outstanding team effort.
The second set was pretty much a mirror image of the first. Kay’Leigh Red Fox, Lauryn Keckler, and Cassie Carter all tallied kills. LeAunah Farlee stepped up with the most at four. The team’s serving stayed consistent and Leila Miner and LeAunah Farlee each registered two aces. They stepped it up defensively and Sydnee White Feather and Lauryn Kicker recorded blocks. Again, their outstanding team effort won the second set 25 to 10.
In the third set, there came this clicking noise because it was the Braves who were playing from behind almost from the get-go.
The Braves caught the Cubs at the 6-to-6 mark and then again at the 9-to-9-mark before Chamberlain pulled away. Cassie Carter, Lainey Peacock, LeAunah Farlee, Sydnee White Feather, and even Leila Miner fought to get kills to catch them, but unfortunately the Cubs out-hit the Braves. The Braves had one too many hitting errors and Chamberlain went on to beat the Braves in the set 17 to 25.
With a 2 to 1 set advantage, the Braves wanted and needed the next set to keep their legs fresh because they still had to battle the McLaughlin Mustangs before the night was over. But the Cubs had their own idea about what was needed. They had the Braves down 1 to 5 before Kay’Leigh Red Fox registered the first kill of the set for the Braves. Kay’Leigh put everything she had into the fight and registered a block to tighten up the score – 6 to 7.
Finally hitting better, the Braves tied the Cubs at 7–all. That score lasted up to the 10-to-10-mark and then their consistency stopped, which allowed the Cubs to gain the lead until the Braves tied them back up at 20-all.
Things looked good when the Braves got the next two points (22 to 20) until the Cubs came roaring back to tie it up once more at 22 all. When they got the next point, Coach Mary Mitchell called for a time out to refocus her team.
The strategy worked and Lauryn Keckler rocketed the next ball. Cassie Carter smoked the following point. And Sydnee White Feather skied to block the Cubs’ frontline player to get the 25th point to win the set and match.
In the match between the Chamberlain Cubs and McLaughlin Mustangs, the Cubs had to work to beat the Mustangs in the first set 25 to 21. However, in the following two sets Chamberlain totally dismantled McLaughlin, 25 to 9 and 25 to 9, before they saddled up and headed south.
In the final match between the Braves and Mustangs, C-EB might have been counting their chickens before their eggs hatched.
Like the Cubs, the Braves already had two prior meetings with the Mustangs. The first one was on September 17 up at McLaughlin where the Braves beat them in three sets, and then again at the Big Dakota Conference Volleyball Tournament on September 18 in Fort Pierre where the Braves beat them again in two straight sets.
Even through they’d just watched the Cubs roll all over the Mustangs in the preceding match, the Braves didn’t seem to be taking the Mustangs seriously enough when the first set commenced.
There were ten ties in the opening set, with the last one coming at 20-all. When the score hit 20 to 22, Coach Mitchell asked for a time out to see if she could light a fire under her team to stop the Mustangs from stealing a win.
Just as McLaughlin played Chamberlain tough in the first set of the match, the Mustangs flexed their muscles in this set and went on to out-hit the Braves and take the first set 22 to 25.
The second set was awesome because both teams traded punches throughout the entire set. Cassie Carter started the set off with a kill and then went on to get five more. LeAunah Farlee, Lainey Peacock, and Lauryn Keckler added power shots and got two kills apiece. When the set was tied at 23-all, the cold from outside crept into the gym as the Mustangs added two more points to the Braves none to go on to win this second set 23 to 25.
With a commanding 2 to 0 lead in sets, the Braves finally put together a performance that warmed the gym back up and put a smile on Coach Mitchell’s face. Surprisingly, they did not do it by hitting power shots, but with defense and serving. When Coach Mitchell sent in Jes Lawrence, she did her job and had no serving errors, which put the Braves in position to take the game back…which they did when they rolled over the Mustangs 25 to 13.
In the fourth set the Braves shot out to a quick lead, but they could not pull away from the Mustangs. They actually had an 8-point lead at 18 to 10, but McLaughlin kept chipping away until they got within 2 points – 23 to 21.
The sounds in the gym swelled when the Mustangs got the next point. You would have thought the game was sold out by the noise level. This was not the case as the crowd was sparse. However, when Cheyenne-Eagle Butte got the next two points, the crowd kept the gym a rockin’. Better yet, Cheyenne-Eagle Butte got the win – 25 to 23 – to force a tiebreaker.
With momentum on their side, the Braves got the first three points of the tiebreaker, which was exactly what they wanted because this deciding set was only going to go to “15.” It was important to get an early lead.
But, like Michael Myers from those Halloween movies, the Mustangs would not quit coming no matter how hard the Braves tried to stop them in their tracks.
When McLaughlin grabbed the lead at the 3-to-4-mark, Cassie Carter absolutely crushed a ball across the net to get the Braves rolling.
But the Mustangs would not go away, and they kept coming to tie it up at 8 all; then at 9 all, and once more at 10 all.
LeAunah Farlee, Cassie Carter, and Lauryn Keckler smoked kills to finally create some breathing room (13 to 10). But again (like Michael Myers) the Mustangs put everyone in the gym on the edge of their seats when they got the next two points, which put the whole gym into hysterics.
When the Braves got their 14th point the gym got even louder. Lauryn Keckler finally put a dragger in McLaughlin by crushing the ball to win the set and match 15 to 12. The scare was over, and the cold outside didn’t seem to matter anymore either.
There are only three regular season matches left for the Braves. Dupree and Newell are slated for Saturday, October 23 at Dupree in Dupree’s triangular, and the last one against Lemmon is at C-EB on October 26, which means time is running out to catch these young ladies tearing up the court. So plan on being there.