By Cinthia Stimson

Douglas seniors Braiden Johnson (left) and Kamdynn Townsend block the ball, giving their side a point during the Lady Cats’ second set against Mountain View, which they ultimately lost. The Lady Bearcats finished the state tournament in fourth after the loss to the Lady Buffaloes and Pinedale Lady Wranglers in a hard-fought four-game set.

Douglas High School Head volleyball coach Angela Rhoades said the Douglas Lady Cats volleyball team got off to a really great start against a solid team Friday when they faced off against the Lander Valley Lady Tigers in the 2020 WHSAA State Championship at the Casper Events Center.

Unfortunately, no matter how well they played, Douglas couldn’t keep it up to take home the championship trophy, finishing fourth following their final game.

The Lady Cats went into the playoff match with tough, competitive skills and a great attitude, set to place well during the final playoffs. Initially, it looked as if they’d keep their reputation intact as they defeated Lander during their first game, 25-14, 25-17, 25-17.

“Lander ended up fighting back and beating Rawlins later in the day, so they really were a tough opponent and played really well against them. Our defense really moved well and we picked up a lot of their attacks. It was a great way to start the tournament,” Rhoades said.

In Douglas’ second match of tournament play, the Lady Buffaloes from Mountain View surprised the powerhouse Lady Cats 25-23, 25-20, 25-22, in a loss they may not have seen coming.

“Mountain View had an awesome day of volleyball. They were so scrappy and they just played defense out of their minds, whereas we got kind of frozen on our feet watching them.

“I have to give a lot of credit to their team for some really outstanding plays. It’s very difficult to beat a team who refuses to let the ball land on their side of the court – and that’s what Mountain View did. Every year it seems like we go to the Rawlins Invite in September, and they beat us by just out-defending us. We get it in our minds to match that by state and can usually get them. This year, with COVID, we never got to see them and experience what they do out there. Nonetheless, it was a great match with some hard-fought rallies by both teams,” Rhoades said.

In their third and final match of the day, the Lady Cats were soundly defeated by the Pinedale Lady Wranglers, the match which would determine third and fourth place rankings within the state showdown.

Pinedale took the match win over Douglas 25-18, 23-25, 25-16, 25-23.

Rhoades said Pinedale’s team was a tough draw in the game.

“They had been a solid team all year and had one of the best 3A players in the state, Jamie Streit, who is going on to play Division 1 volleyball. Just like Mountain View, the girls in Pinedale play volleyball 12 months a year and spend all winter and spring playing volleyball in Salt Lake City.

“While I know we meet them athlete-to-athlete, they do have that club volleyball polish and just can make some tough plays through the experience they have. I would not trade all of the multi-sport athletes we have in our Douglas program for anything in the world, though. I am very proud of them and they did show that they can compete and push any program in the state,” she said.

Rhoades said she really wanted to thank the seniors one last time “for all of the efforts they put into volleyball.

“Whenever they were in the gym with volleyball, they truly gave it their hearts, and I will always appreciate them for that and will be their biggest fan in the future. Thanks Allyson Fertig, Joslin Igo, Braiden Johnson, Kinley Johnson, Kamdynn Townsend, and student trainer Kaelyn McMahon, for all of the years of work you put in for Bearcat volleyball . . . 23-4 is an outstanding season, and I was proud to coach these girls,” Rhoades said.

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