The Thunder Basin girls had home-court advantage Thursday for the season’s first cross-town volleyball match against Campbell County, but it was hard to tell by looking at the jam-packed student sections.
The feeling of rivalry was certainly in the air before the volleyball match, as the Bolts and Camels prepared for battle. Both teams were clearly trying for the loudest pregame chant, but it only took three sets for the Bolts to notch the victory, winning 25-13, 25-16, 25-23.
The Camels grew into the match as it went on, but a fast start by TBHS was too much to overcome.
The Bolts weren’t 100% for the game after having to make a big change early in the week. The team learned Monday that starting setter Chastin Nelson suffered a mild concussion in last weekend’s tournament, which thrust senior Angela Youngs into an unfamiliar position.
“I thought the kids played really well tonight, especially (without Nelson). Your setter is your quarterback,” TBHS coach Winnett Martin said. “Angela just kind of got thrown to the wolves, but I think she did amazing tonight stepping into that role.”
Youngs only had two practices to get ready for the Campbell County game. Before that, the most experience she had was a little bit of setting as a freshman.
“I was a little bit nervous at first, but once you get into that intensity and start going, it’s just fun to play with your team,” Youngs said. “I thought I did good for just the two days of practice I got and just stepping in and doing what was needed.”
Youngs only had a couple of setting errors and finished with 20 assists. The Bolts didn’t miss a beat with her in the starting lineup and used early leads to roll in the first two game.
The Camels made a charge in the third game, drawing within a point at 24-23, but a missed serve gave TBHS the three-game win.
Slow starts have been an issue for the Camels so far this season and have forced them to constantly fight from behind, CCHS senior Chloe Davis said. She thinks the problem stems from not practicing with enough intensity.
“I think we played like we practice,” Davis said. “Once we practice with energy, we’ll play with energy.”
Besides the energy level, the Bolts had a clear advantage in the hitting department Thursday night. They were led by Elsa Clark with 10 kills, followed by senior Rigan McInerney with eight.
Clark also had a big presence at the net defensively for TBHS. She came up with six blocks to lead the team, while Joelie Spelts had five and Gabby Drube had four.
Campbell County was led in hitting by junior Shaelea Milliron with five kills, while Breckyn Percifield and Lauryn Love both had three. Love also had three blocks to help the Camels, but it was Davis who led the team with four.
Thunder Basin 25,
Campbell County 13
CCHS coach Marcy Befus called a timeout just five points into the first set after four Camel mistakes and a McInerney kill gave the Bolts a quick 5-0 lead. It didn’t do much to slow down TBHS, though, and that was as close as the Camels would get.
It was still a five-point margin at 11-6 after the Bolts made three straight errors, but Clark and Spelts regained momentum with a huge stretch of play. Clark quickly racked up two blocks and three big kills, while Spelts added a pair of kills and TBHS was suddenly ahead 18-7.
Two missed serves from TBHS and big block from Love broke up the run, but it was only temporary relief. Drube served up back-to-back aces to extend the lead to 23-11 before Spelts put down the winning kill a few points later.
Thunder Basin 25,
Campbell County 16
The Camels struck first in the second set thanks to a big kill by Davis, but quickly responded with another run. Drube sparked it, coming up with back-to-back blocks and two kills to push the lead to 8-1.
Thunder Basin lost some focus during the next 12 points, as five mistakes allowed the Camels to make a run of their own. Eventually, an ace by CCHS senior Lauren Lacey closed the gap to 12-10.
Runs are a huge part of volleyball and this match was no different. Three kills from Clark and an ace by Kate Hladky started the next one for the Bolts and they regained control at 20-11.
McInerney was having a quiet set up to that point, but finished on a tear. Youngs set to her three straight times to end the set and McInerney pounded all three down for the 25-16 win.
Thunder Basin 25,
Campbell County 23
Martin complimented the way Befus was able to make a few adjustments and challenge the Bolts late in the match. The Camels were much better in the third set, but the Bolts still came away with the win.
CCHS was already in a better position 10 points in, taking advantage of kills by Davis and Love to tie the game at five. The biggest lead for the Camels was 8-5, but Brooke Conklin and Drube came up with blocks on back-to-back points to help retake the lead for the Bolts at 12-9.
The Camels hung around to the very end. Milliron served up an ace to draw within a point at 18-17 before the Bolts rallied to make it 21-18.
A vital tip by Percifield helped CCHS make one last push at 23-22, but a kill by Clark and a missed serve by the Camels sealed the 25-23 win.