CLEARWATER — After hitting on all cylinders in the first set, Class C No. 5 Summerland had to come from behind in the second to defeat previously once-beaten Boyd County 25-14, 25-23 in the first match of a triangular here.
“In that first set, we played pretty decent and we passed well and we stayed in-system a lot,” Summerland coach Suz Funk said. “If we can pass the ball, we have three hitters going, that's a huge advantage for us.”
Boyd County — which serves the communities of Spencer, Butte and Naper — led in the first set 4-3 before the Bobcats hit their stride. Sidney Stallbaum and Brenna Wagner each had two kills in a 6-1 run.
Summerland — a co-op of Ewing, Clearwater and Orchard — then turned to 6-foot outside hitter Tiana Thramer, who had a kill and two solo blocks during a 7-0 run to put the Bobcats on top 16-6. They would lead by no fewer than eight points the rest of the way and cruised 25-14.
“We were a little bit intimidated, coming out,” Boyd County coach Bill Tabbert said. “Man, when you're facing two gals that are six-footers that can hammer it like Stallbaum and Thramer, that makes for a tough night.”
Boyd County looked to even the score in the second set and got off to a great start. Kills by Lauryn Hoffman, Daydra Zeisler and Mariah Smalley, along with a series of Bobcat attack errors, had the Spartans on top 14-7.
“Second set, we kind of let our guard down and let them take advantage of us,” Funk said. “They're a good team, you can't do that with a ball club like that.”
Tabbert said his team gained some confidence in that second set. “The intimidation factor wasn't quite as much,” he said.
Brenna Wagner got the Summerland wheels rolling, recording four kills sandwiched around an Avery Cheatum service ace during a 5-0 run that pulled the Bobcats to within 14-12.
“I'm just thankful for my team to get the good set and pass, that I could be able to kill it,” Wagner said.
Later, Thramer's solo block tied the score at 16, but Boyd County followed that with a 4-1 run. Kalli Kayl's service ace made it 20-17 Spartans.
A Boyd County service error trimmed the Spartan lead to 21-19, starting a 5-0 Bobcat run. Summer Schroeder's tip kill made it 23-21. The teams then traded the final four points. Kyra Nilson assisted Thramer on a monster kill to end the match at 25-23.
Despite the win, Funk, who earned her 301st and 302nd career coaching victories, saw plenty of room for improvement. “I didn't see us run many fakes, we didn't try to keep that middle blocker stabilized and we just didn't quite do our job tonight.”
Members of last year's Class D2 state runner-up Ewing team make up the majority of the Summerland varsity lineup. Wagner, Schroeder, Thramer, Stallbaum and Ashley Koenig all wore the black and orange last year. The additions of former Clearwater-Orchard players — Nilson, in addition to Avery and Haley Cheatum — make the Bobcats extremely formidable.
“They're probably as good of a team as you're going to find in C2 and they're definitely as good of a team as you're going to find in the Niobrara Valley,” said Tabbert, who won't be able to forget Tuesday's defeat anytime soon.
“It's kind of a strange deal, but I teach in Ewing,” he said with a laugh, “so I see these kids every day. And I'm from Orchard, so I know the Orchard kids, so I'm sure I'll get some good digs tomorrow from the girls at Ewing.”
Later on in the evening, both Boyd County and Summerland defeated Creighton in straight sets. The Bulldogs led the first set against the Spartans the entire way until Boyd County was able to take the lead at 23-22 before winning 25-23. The Spartans then won the second set 25-21.
In the evening's final match, Summerland defeated Creighton 25-15, 25-15. It was the Bobcats' second win over the Bulldogs in the past four days.
Summerland defeats Boyd County 25-14, 25-23
SUM: Ashley Koenig, 2k; Kyra Nilson, 1k, 15s; Sidney Stallbaum, 4k, 2b; Brenna Wagner, 8k; Tiana Thramer, 6k, 3b, 1a, 2s; Summer Schroeder, 2k, 1a, 1s; Hadley Cheatum 1k, 1a; Avery Cheatum, 1a.
BCO: Kalli Kayl 2k, 1a; Haylie Carson, 1k, 2s; Mariah Smalley, 4k, 1a; Hannah Drueke, 9s; Heather Atkinson, 1k; Daydra Zeisler 4k; Alex Brestel, 3s; Lauryn Hoffman 5k; Gracelyn Adams 1s.
Key: k = kill, b = solo block, a = service ace, s = set assist.