The Prairie City Panthers capped a successful season, competing in round one at state where they lost a close match to the Days Creek Wolves.
Days Creek won with scores of 25-15, 23-25, 26-24, 23-25 and 15-8.
“The match at Days Creek was a loss on the books, but there was still a great deal to celebrate about it,” said coach Louanne Zweygardt.
She said, even after a seven-plus-hour drive on the bus, her team was competitive, pushing it to five sets at the Wolves’ home court.
Days Creek entered the contest as the No. 5-ranked team, which also beat the No. 1-ranked team at their own district tournament.
“The girls played hard and well,” Zweygardt said. “We did have a slow start but gained momentum in the second set to take it. We had the lead in the third set but couldn’t quite hold onto it.”
She added, “The fourth set went our way again, and the energy in the gym was high. A few too many unforced errors on our part cost us the fifth set.”
Panther player Brianna Zweygardt had three aces out of 23 serves and only one error.
Cassie Hire served 100 percent with 18 serves.
Hailee Wall had seven kills, and Brianna Zweygardt added six. Cassie Hire, Sierra Dahlen and Rilee Emmel each had five, and Emily Ennis had four.
“I can’t say enough good things about this team and our season,” Louanne Zweygardt said. “We saw a great deal of improvement in the girls individually and especially as a team in the final month of the season, and they were peaking at the end. The girls should be proud to know that they would have competed very well in the state tournament.”
Prairie City ended its season ranked No. 18 in state with an overall record of 18-7 and was the 1A-8 High Desert League and District Tournament champions.
“This year has been the best volleyball year that I’ve had through my high school (career),” said senior Sierra Dahlen. “Once the districts came around, toward the end, it became an instant and constant adrenaline rush. That playoff game, it was definitely competition.”
Mariah McClung said making it to the playoffs was a great way to end her senior year of volleyball. The girls wanted to work together and improve, she said.
“I think for the game everybody was really pumped for it and excited,” she said. “Even with the outcome, I think our team was still happy with how it went and proud that we made it this far.”
Brianna Zweygardt said she was happy with how her team performed and was confident going into the game.
“We battled hard, but it didn’t go our way,” she said. “It was definitely my favorite year because we got to go on, but also the attitudes of the girls all season was a positive experience.”