A nervous Lady Raider squad faced the top team in the league last week, then ended their second chance at a state berth to close their season with a seven-win, nine-loss record.
The Lady Raiders played their last two matches of the 2012 season on the road at Bridgeport and Kittitas.
At Bridgeport Tuesday, the Lady Raiders started the match playing timid and inconsistent.
“They were nervous and honestly scared to be playing the number-one team in our league,” Coach Nate Piturachsatit said. “We talked at the beginning of the game how there is no pressure on us.”
But the pressure was still there, and the Lady Raiders dropped the first game not looking like the squad who had swept Oroville two weeks earlier.
LR started to regain confidence and played a tighter second game. Bridgeport overconfidence let LR steal momentum from the Fillies to make the game closer. In the end, mistakes in serving and coverage were too much to overcome and LR lost the second game.
Piturachsatit gave the team another pep talk.
It worked, as the Lady Raiders stayed with the Fillies the entire game. Virgina Lezard scored the point on a tip that gave LR its first lead, and as a team the play was more consistent.
The Fillies turned the game into a nailbiter, with the Lady Raiders pulling the victory out of the jaws of defeat right at the very end. Right before the third game, Piturachsatit had challenged one senior to lead, he said.
“My senior setter, Danielle Laramie, took back her leadership role and helped the team regain the level of play that they are capable of,” he said. “One voice amongst the team is needed to bring a team together, someone to guide, empower, and direct. I told her we needed her to be that ….”
LR almost stole the win from the Fillies in the fourth game. After overcoming coverage letdowns, they were poised to force extra time when the ball dropped in a coverage hole, ending the match with a Fillies victory, 3 games to 1.
Tanecia Stanczak had a solid match with four kills, and Laramie recorded two aces for the night.
The chance for a state berth was still on the table when the Lady Raiders travelled to Kittitas Thursday. A win there and another one on Saturday, and LR would be off next weekend to Yakima for the state 2B tourney.
Coach Piturachsatit saw the determination from the girls to do just that. They had been playing for a long time, they were talented, and they did not want to see the season end then and there, in this loser-out game at the beginning of the District 5-6 playoffs.
But Kittitas had the same ideas and played a very aggressive game that took the Lady Raiders off guard.
“The first game went quick, and we didn’t attack the ball,” Piturachsatit said.
The Lady Raiders came back in the second and played a tougher more consistent game to make it close. But the bounces went Kittitas’ way and the Coyotes won the match in three games.
Two seniors went out on top with great performances, Piturachsatit pointed out.
“Tanecia Stanczak was definitely the leader on the court tonight,” he said. “Kittitas had no answer for her in the middle.”
Stanczak’s play in the middle netted her 11 kills.
Laramie continued to lead the team, racking up five aces in a serving series in the second game that gave the Lady Raiders a chance to win.
With the loss, the season ended with the Lady Raiders finishing third in the North Central B League.
Fillies 25 LR 12
Fillies 25 LR 17
LR 25 Fillies 23
Fillies 25 LR 22
Coyotes 25 LR 12
Coyotes 27 LR 25
Coyotes 25 LR 18