LUSK – Thursday night, Niobrara County High School hosted Pine Bluffs before both teams headed to the Big Horn tournament for the weekend.
The visitors took an early 8-4 lead, and held that advantage for most of the first set. Melody ZumBrunnen pounded a kill between a pair of Lady Hornets to pull NCHS within 22-19, but the rally came up short in the 25-20 loss.
Pine Bluffs took advantage of several errors to build a comfortable lead of five by the midpoint. The 12-7 deficit forced a timeout from head coach Sandra Johnson, yet despite back-to-back kills by Lily Krueger, the hole was too deep to dig out of in the 25-12 final.
NCHS jumped out to an 8-4 lead in the third set behind kills from Krueger and Gracie ZumBrunnen, but the visitors battled to within 14-12. M. ZumBrunnen served up five in a row to help the Lady Tigers to the 25-23 win.
The fourth set featured several long rallies and spirited play from both squads. Just as PBHS was about to run away, ahead 16-8, Lusk put up a furious rally. Krueger and the ZumBrunnen sisters were strong at the net, and Gracie’s spike pulled NCHS within six. Paige Potter got hot from the serving line with four in a row, but the rally was halted 25-23, as Pine Bluffs won 3-1.
NCHS TEAM STATS: Serving- 72/84, 86 pct; 30 kills/94 atts, 32 pct; 23 ast; 83 digs/118 atts, 70 pct.
NCHS PLAYER STATS: Serving- Potter 7/7; M. ZumBrunnen 14/15; Krueger 13/14; G. ZumBrunnen 11/12. Kills- Krueger 10; G. Zumbrunnen 9; M. ZumBrunnen 9. Assists- Evelyn DesEnfants 20. Digs- Krueger 19; Hannah Krein 17; DesEnfants 14.
The Lady Tigers opened Friday’s pool play against Burlington and won in two sets (25-13 and 26-24), before facing Tongue River. The Lady Eagles are ranked second in the Wyopreps Coaches and Media Poll and defeated Lusk in matching 25-12 scores. The final match of the day came against Riverside and the Lady Rebels won 25-9 and 25-15.
Saturday saw the Lady Tigers in the Gold bracket and facing Upton. NCHS won 25-21 and 25-17, before falling to Wind River 25-23 and 25-15.
NCHS TEAM TOURNEY STATS: Serving- 162/183, 27 aces, 89 pct; 45 kills/223 atts, 20 pct; 176 digs/273 atts, 64 pct.
NCHS PLAYER TOURNEY STATS: Serving- Krueger 26/27; G. ZumBrunnen 22/23; Phoebe Allbright 29/32, 9 aces; DesEnfants 31/35, 6 aces, H. Krein 32/38, 7 aces. Kills- Krueger 12; G. ZumBrunnen 12. Assists- DesEnfants 33. Digs- G. ZumBrunnen 38; DesEnfants 31; M. ZumBrunnen 31; Krueger 30.
This week, the Lady Tigers host Sioux County, Nebraska on Thursday, before Burns returns to 2A and Tiger Gym Friday night. To cap off a busy weekend, on Saturday, the Lady Tigers travel to Saratoga. Thursday’s varsity match begins at 5 p.m. before the first of three matches tip off Friday at 4 p.m. Saturday action begins at 11 a.m.