The Lady Braves played seven games last Friday and Saturday in the Lakota Nation Invitational in Rapid City and then took on the Little Wound Mustangs at home on Tuesday. Then they packed their bags again to travel up Highway 65 up to take on the McIntosh Tigers. With her ranks somewhat depleted, Coach Mary Mitchell knew she had her hands full even though the Tigers didn’t have a good overall record (2-14)
The wear and tear on her girls showed immediately because the Tigers had the Braves down 0 to 10 before Lainey Peacock dropped in a trick shot to score a kill and finally put a point on the board for the Braves. Sydnee White Feather and LeAunah Farlee also banged kills. It looked like the girls’ legs were gone; the Braves kept missing balls on defense and offense. The Tigers took advantage of the faltering Braves and added on points to win the first set 12 to 25.
In the first set Tiana Johnson, Jes Lawrence, and Wo’Niya Garreau stepped up from the JV squad on short notice to do their best for Coach Mitchell and the Braves. Johnson and Garreau played hard, and Lawrence did a fine job serving.
With shaky legs, the Braves did their best to change the tone of the game going into the second set. Sydnee White Feather took the lead and dominated on offense and defense. Sydnee jumped for joy when she got a block almost immediately and kept challenging every shot the Tigers tried to slap over. Her hustle paid off when she registered another block at the four-to-seven-mark.
The Braves had too many poor receptions when the ball came over the net and failed to hit balls solidly on offense and the Tigers’ lead grew until Sydnee White Feather rocketed two kills in a row at the eleven-to-twenty-one-mark. Sydnee jumped so high; she probably could have dunked the ball in the basketball goal. Lauryn Keckler registered two kills as well, but the power came too late The Tigers’ lead was too great and they hung on to win the second set 17 to 25.
The Braves came out smoking in the third set. Jes Lawrence sent rockets across the net when she served and Lauryn Keckler banged shots as well. Lauryn got her first kill to tie up the set at 6-all, and Sydnee White Feather smashed the ball to tie the score up at 12-all.
The Tigers were shell shocked and did their best to hang in and take the lead, but the Braves were finally hitting and playing better defense. There were four more ties. Then it was LeAunah Farlee’s turn to smoke a kill over to tie it at 19-all. Smoke turned into fire when Lainey Peacock and Lauryn Keckler got in the shootout and registered kills to take the third set 25 to 22. Ahmyli Clark added an exclamation point when she smoked an ace across the net to get the Braves’ 25th point.
With the Braves finally playing up to their capabilities, the fourth set started off with the teams trading punches to make the score 6 to 6. Unfortunately, the Tigers started creeping away and the Braves’ hitting began to falter again.
Coach Mitchell called for a time out at the 6-to-9-mark. Sadly, the Tigers took advantage of the Braves’ mishandling of the ball and went on to win the Set/Match 14 to 25.
In the final set Lauryn Keckler was a bright spots for the Braves, smashing three kills. So was LeAunah Keckler, registering four aces: the last two in a row and the final two points for the Braves. LeAunah should get the Player of the Game for the match for providing the most fire power. If they handed out a “Spirit Award,” it would have to go to Sydnee White Feather. Her joy was spontaneous, animated, and contagious to watch every time she logged a kill or stuffed an opponent on defense.
Coach Mitchell should be given a “Super Glue Award” for piecing together a depleted and exhausted team to challenge the Tigers and putting on a great show the Braves Nation can be proud of.