The Thunder Basin High School volleyball team was rolling with a 13-3 record before its off week. The break was used to go back to the drawing board on a few issues, and their first test back was at a tournament in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
The Bolts picked up up where they left off, rattling off three straight wins on Friday to earn a place in the gold bracket. On Saturday, TBHS continued its momentum, beating Gerring and Chadron, Nebraska to reach the championship.
The Bolts faced a talented team from Syndey, Nebraska in the title match, but couldn’t capture its second tournament championship of the season. They fought hard for a 27-25 win in the second set, but Sydney won the other two 25-17 and 25-19 for the title.
“It is a really big tournament with some really good teams. Nebraska has some really good volleyball,” TBHS coach Wenett Martin said. “I really can’t complain about this weekend. It was a bummer to take that loss, but that’s the reason we go there is for the competition.”
Although Martin said Nebraska volleyball is “completely different” compared to Wyoming, with no lifts or carries being called, Sydney, Nebraska was one of the best teams the Bolts have played. She thought it was the scrappiest team they’ve seen all season, which made them hit and work a lot harder for points.
“I was pleased that we played with them. They just did a couple things better than us,” Martin said.
Thunder Basin did plenty right over the weekend. Martin thought the defense was the biggest standout for the Bolts, but they served and played the net extremely well, too.
“I thought our defense was super scrappy. They just refused to let the ball hit the ground. … And our net play has been amazing this year, so it was nice to see that we’ve still got that going.” she said. “We have five hitters we can go to on any rotation. When teams try to overload Rigan (McInerney), we just go somewhere else.”
McInerney, Elsa Clark and Gabby Drube were Thunder Basin’s leading hitters over the weekend, while Chastin Nelson was in her usual setting role.
The Bolts were tested in all three matches of the gold bracket, but on Friday, Martin said “we just kind of ran through our pool.” Their wins on Friday included a team from Alliance, Nebraska, which has a player committed to Iowa State.
On Saturday, Thunder Basin had to overcome a slow start in its opening match. Martin said her team didn’t have near enough energy during the 27-25 loss to Gerring, Nebraska in the first set, but then a light switch flipped and the Bolts won 25-13 and 25-17 to advance.
The semifinal against Chadron, Nebraska was also “a great match,” Martin said. Chadron had a lot of size and athleticism, but TBHS went toe-to-toe for two 26-24 victories. The Bolts came back from a 17-10 deficit in the first set, which is something Martin said just doesn’t happen very often.
Thunder Basin has a lot of momentum as it moves forward with an 18-4 record. Next up will be a cross-town trip to Campbell County High School Thursday and Martin fully expects a packed house.