Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

Lady Broncs take on three days at State


Liz Wood

Burns Lady Broncs cheer after making a point during their game against Thermopolis Lady Bobcats at the State Volleyball Tournament Friday in Casper.

Burns Lady Broncs completed a successful season with a trip to State Volleyball Nov. 6 through Nov. 8 in Casper. The Lady Broncs fought to compete all three days.

Christina Patterson, Burns High School Volleyball Coach, said the 2014/15 volleyball season was pretty outstanding. This was the first year Burns has made it to State since the 1992/93 season. Patterson said the team has been pretty successful and are very proud of themselves.

"For our first year at State, I'm pretty freaking proud," Rachel Derner, Senior Lady Bronc said.

Just going to State wasn't going to satisfy the team, Patterson said. They wanted to compete at the highest level. Patterson said she didn't want the team to lose two and be done, since it is harder to play at the event center.

"The team had a few struggles in each game, but they figured it out and fought back as hard as they could," Patterson said.

The Lady Broncs began their adventure at State playing against Lyman Lady Eagles.

"We did struggle our first game against Lyman," Patterson said.

Lyman was a 3A school that dropped down this year. The height of the Lady Eagles had an advantage over the Lady Broncs. The Lady Broncs struggled hitting the ball around and through the blocks.

"When we came out for the first set, the atmosphere of the event center drained us and we didn't perform very well," Patterson said. The Lady Broncs lost the first set 12-25.

"However, when they played their second set, the team did outstanding and were very close to winning," Patterson also said. The score at the end of the second set was a close 22-25. The Lady Broncs fell short and lost the third set 18-25.

Jessica Malm, Junior Lady Bronc, said the jitters kind of got to the team the first game. However, Malm was still able to score five kills and make 26 digs.Teammate Mckenzie Ward made 14 kills and 14 digs. Her sister, Mckayla Ward, made 18 assists and 10 digs. Alex McCart and Katie Norris each made four kills. Rachel Derner made 18 digs during the team's first game at State.

After the Lyman game, Patterson said she thought maybe the team would struggle during the rest of the tournament. However, the team came together and played outstanding on day two.

On Friday, the Lady Broncs came out on fire when they played against Thermopolis Lady Bobcats. The first two sets were won by the Lady Broncs, 25-14 and 25-20. Then, the Lady Bobcats decided to wake up and won the third and fourth set, 20-25 and 21-25. Losing those last two is just enough to break a team, but the girls came back and fought hard. It went all the way down to the wire and the Lady Broncs were able to win 15-13 in the fifth set. The Lady Broncs were ecstatic about winning a game at State their first time. Patterson said it was an accomplishment for the team to make it to day three of the tournament.

"When we won against Thermopolis, we were screaming and jumping up and down in this giant huddle. We decided to rush the fans. As we're going up all these stairs, people who were watching the 4A game complemented us on our win. It was one of the coolest feelings to know that they were watching us from the 4A court," Derner said. Derner made 32 digs during the game against the Lady Bobcats.

"Winning the second game was one of the best feelings in the world and we were able to win a game for Coach Patterson at State," Malm said. Malm made 15 kills and 28 digs.

Lady Broncs Mckenzie Ward scored four aces, 20 kills and made 29 digs. McKayla Ward scored three aces along with 29 assists and 33 digs. Teammate Norris made seven kills and 11 digs. Skylar Trembath helped her winning team with seven assists and 20 digs.

On day three, the Lady Broncs were one game away from winning a trophy. On Saturday morning, they faced Southeast Lady Cyclones.

"The Lady Cyclones were consistent and we weren't," Patterson said.

The Lady Broncs lost to the Lady Cyclones in the first two sets, 17-25 and 16-25. Derner said she's not sure if it was mental or the team's skills, but the Lady Broncs were able to defeat the Lady Cyclones in the third set 25-14. However, the Lady Cyclones swept the fourth game with a close win 21-25.

For their final game at State, Mckenzie Ward made 10 kills and 23 digs. Malm had eight kills and 23 digs. McCart scored six kills and Norris scored seven. Mckayla Ward made 20 assists and 16 digs. Derner made 23 digs.

"As disappointing as that sounds to some, it's actually a huge accomplishment for the Lady Broncs to have come so far. So, it was a very successful year," Patterson said. "The team stuck with each other, backed each other up, were positive and energetic. They wanted each other to do well."

"State is huge," Malm said. "You look up at the ceiling and loose the ball in the light. There's tons of energy and everybody is yelling from every court. You can barely hear your teammates but it's an awesome experience to compete there."

"There are four games going on at once and when all the games begin, the noise level goes way up. I think this was a big culture shock for the players who have never been there," Patterson said.

Derner said state was a bit overwhelming at first. Mckayla Ward said the team walked into the gym and they all had their phones out taking pictures of the court. Ward said it was very clear it was their first time there.

"We were all laying on the floor and feeling it, but once the team got over the shock, the atmosphere didn't seem any different compared to their home gym," Derner said.

"We couldn't hear each other talking, but we were all flowing and we knew where each other were going. It was really nice," Mckayla Ward said. "Even though we couldn't hear each other taking, I still knew were my teammates were. If the ball went over my shoulder, I knew if I turned around Derner would be right there, ready to pass the ball. I don't think we had to talk."

"This year, it was really important for the team to learned how to trust each other on the court," Patterson said.

Mckayla Ward said trust is the foundation of a team. Teams are built on trust and when the trust is gone, thats when teams crash and burn, Mckenzie Ward said. Derner said, "Luckily we never had that moment, even up to our last game. We beat southeast in a set, which is a huge accomplishment for our team."

Mckenzie Ward said walking into a time-out and glancing up at all the people cheering them on was surreal. A fan bus full of students who wanted to watch the Lady Broncs compete went up to Casper all three days. Patterson said a lot of people at State complimented the team on how well they played defense and how well they played as a team.

Patterson has been training the seniors since they were in junior high school. She said it has been amazing to watch them progress from day one all the way to this year. She said she hopes she has taught them how to be good people. She really tries to teach them how to analyze the game and think beyond the game.

However, they team teaches Patterson so much everyday, she said. Including how to not be so serious. "Sometimes we just have to laugh and have fun. Especially in sports, players can become very competitive and just want to win," Patterson said. "We just have to take a step back and know it's also about the relationships the team develops."

The team is always reminding Patterson the good times are what she's going to remember. Patterson said she doesn't know if she's going to remember the team as the team who won a game at state, but she will remember them as their characters and who they are as people.

"They did exactly what I asked them to accomplish," Patterson said. "They have learned the game of volleyball very well."

The Lady Broncs' overall record for the season was 19 wins and 10 losses.

Derner was able to compete at the FFA National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, and play with her team at Regionals in Torrington. She competed at FFA as in individual with her prepared speech. Derner said having a team to back her up has always been important to her. This year, her team was volleyball.

Derner said it was really exciting to be able to come back from National Convention and compete at Regionals. At the beginning of the season, the team discussed if it would be fair for Derner to come back or not. Derner said it really meant a lot to her that her team wanted her to come back.

Mckayla Ward said the team has Derner's back no matter what. Since she was part of the team at the start, it was important that she would be part of the team at the end.

Mckenzie Ward said, "I've never felt more unified in any team I've ever been on."

Malm will be returning next season along with Trembath and Norris as starters. Patterson wants them to focus on working hard every moment and trying to be leaders for their team.

She would also like to see them have passion and energy for the game. Patterson said she wants her leaders to raise the younger kids up to their level and be encouraging to their teammates.

"Next year, there will be a lot of potential freshman that will do great things the seniors left behind," Malm said. "It's gonna be another great season and I think we're gonna make it to state next year, too."


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