The Prairie City Panthers and Monument/Dayville Tigers came out strong to kick off the 1A-8 High Desert League Volleyball Tournament.
Prairie City fought tooth and nail for the 3-1 win, with scores of 20-25, 27-25, 25-11 and 27-25.
“We started out with lots of energy — a little on the high side — and then they started calming,” said Panther co-coach Lance Zweygardt, who coaches with Louanne Zweygardt.
The Panthers entered the tournament seeded fourth and the Tigers fifth.
“Monument/Dayville was fighting for the match — especially that last one — so we had to focus to pull out the win,” Lance said.
In the final set, the teams tied up the score several times, keeping it close throughout.
Crane won the championship title, with Adrian placing second and Jordan Valley third. Harper/Huntington also competed.
The top three teams will continue in the state playoff games.
After winning their first game, Prairie City faced Adrian, which was seeded first.
The Panthers fell to Adrian, the Antelopes winning 3-0 with scores of 25-15, 25-19 and 25-8.
Playing for third place, Prairie City faced Jordan Valley, the Mustangs winning in four with scores of 25-20, 25-17, 25-17 and 25-21.
“We had some highs and lows, but we had some long rallies and the girls worked together really well,” Lance said. “I was very proud of them. The younger girls made a huge improvement, and the older girls made changes and worked hard on improving their game, elevating their game to a higher level.”
He added, “They struggled with consistency, and couldn’t quite break the barrier. Our high level of play was as good as anyone in the league.”
Prairie City’s MaKenzie Jones said that reaching their goal of winning their first game was great, but added it’s difficult to see the season come to a close.
“It’s really bittersweet, especially being a senior,” she said. “I love them (my teammates) to death, and I’m really glad I had them to finish out my senior year.”
Her teammate Sarah Ennis said the tournament was good and “so close.”
“I’m really glad we were on the right side of the brackets this year, and I’m proud of how our team played,” she said.
“I think we put up a really good fight,” said Panther Taci Perrenoud.
All-league honors for Prairie City included: Brianna Zweygardt, first team, and Cassie Hire, second team.
Monument/Dayville went on to beat Harper/Huntington in the consolation game with scores of 25-23 and 25-12.
Tiger coach Tiffnie Schmadeka said, although that game started slow, the girls were able to pick up momentum and finish strong.
“They had some good serves and digs, which then set us up to be able to kill the ball,” she said. “Kendall (Hettinga) had a good game hitting. Denali (Twehues) had some good passing, and we were able to serve pretty tough.”
Prairie City stats:
Brianna Zweygardt: 29/37 (78 percent), 10 aces
Sarah Ennis: 28/32 (88 percent), 5 aces
Cassie Hire: 33/34 (97 percent), 11 aces
Sierra Dahlen: 21/24 (88 percent), 4 aces
S. Ennis: 4
Emily Ennis: 10