For the first time in at least a dozen years the NCHS volleyball team found themselves among the 2A coaches/media top five last week. Sundance and Wright are the only two teams to defeat Lusk thus far and are in the top two spots. Southeast was a distant third, while the Lady Tigers and Big Piney tied for fourth place. Pine Bluffs was just outside the top five on Wyopreps.
Friday at Guernsey, NCHS took a bit to get going against the 1A Lady Vikings. Sloppy, uninspired play kept the home team close but Lusk won the first set 25-15 and the second set 25-18. The killer instinct came into play during the third set as the Lady Tigers had little trouble to close out the 25-6 win.
NCHS TEAM STATS: Serving 67/71, 94 percent, 8 aces. 28 kills/76 atts. 20 assists. 7 blocks. 47/56 digs.
NCHS PLAYER STATS: Serving- Christianson 20/20; Gilkey 13/13; Abbott 9/9; Smith 7/7; Blackburn 6/6. Kills- Smith 8; Gilkey 6; Molzahn 5. Assists- Christianson 13, Ceaglske 7. Blocks- Smith 4. Digs- Hales 11, Abbott 10.
On Saturday the girls traveled to Glenrock and again seemed to be riding their newfound fame against an inferior opponent. The Lady Herders led for most for the first set before NCHS tied it at 17. Smith reeled off five service points in a row to surge ahead 19-17 and Gaukel pushed it to 24-19. Hales was able to secure the 25-21 win for the Lady Tigers.
Again in the second set, Glenrock took command early and their 13-9 lead was as close as Lusk would get in the 25-16 final. The home team was riding momentum and quickly led 6-0 in the third set. NCHS could never catch up as the Lady Herders won by that six point margin 25-19.
A raucous home crowd had Glenrock poised for the upset, and when they took the 15-13 lead- things looked bleak for the red and white. After a fiery timeout from Lady Tiger Head Coach Sandra Johnson, NCHS responded with a 12-4 run to force a fifth set. Christianson silenced the crowd with a fast four serves, and Lusk jumped out to an 8-3 lead. Glenrock never got closer than 11-10 as Gilkey, Gaukel, Smith and Hales put four kills in the floor for the 15-10 win. The wins moved NCHS to 15-2 overall and 2-0 in 2A SE conference play.
NCHS TEAM STATS: Serving 80/85, 94 percent, 11 aces. 35 kills/144 atts. 26 assists. 16 blocks. 79/117 digs.
NCHS PLAYER STATS: Serving- Gaukel 15/15, 4 aces; Hales 7/7; Christianson 10/10. Kills- Hales 9, Smith 9, Molzahn 7. Assists- Christianson 13, Ceaglske 10. Blocks- Hales 7; Molzahn 4, Smith 4. Digs- Gaukel 25; Hales 15; Smith 11; Gilkey 10.
The JV has struggled recently with injuries, illness and other absences but after a 25-21 first set loss to Guernsey-Sunrise, responded with 25-17 and 25-22 wins. Saturday in Glenrock was a different story as the home team won in a pair of 25-21 matches.
This week’s games may be the biggest of the season as perennial state contenders Pine Bluffs and Southeast come to Tiger Gym for Homecoming Week. The first of three games against PB Friday begin at 3 p.m. On Saturday the Lady Cyclones visit for three games starting at 1 p.m. Get the Red and White out and come make some noise for our Lady Tigers.