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

Several Lady Hornets and Lady Broncs earn post-season accolades


After a very successful volleyball season for both Pine Bluffs Lady Hornets and Burns Lady Broncs, several players have received All-Conference, All-Regional and All-State awards. The coaches have also received “Coach of the Year” awards.

Lady Bronc McKenzie Ward received All-Conference, All-Regional and All-State. McKayla Ward and Jessica Malm have both received All-Conference and All-Regional. Rachel Derner received All-Regional. Burns volleyball coach, Christina Patterson, was awarded South Regional Coach of the Year.

Malm said it is an honor to receive All-Conference and All-Regional as a junior. However, she said she has to give all the credit back to her team because receiving these awards wouldn’t be possible without them.

“The team helps me everyday at practice,” Malm said. “They make sure they have the block covered and have good defense. They help us get these awards.”

Mckenzie Ward said the awards are team awards. Ward said it takes every single person on the floor to get one kill. Someone has to pass the ball, someone has to set the ball and then someone else has to score.

“There’s not any point in the game where one player is doing all the work,” Mckenzie Ward said. “So it’s really team recognition. These awards show what a team we really are.”

McKayla Ward said the Lady Broncs owe a lot of their success to Coach Patterson because she is there for the girls not only on the court, but every single day and for every aspect. Ward said she has so much respect for her coach.

“I’ve gone to her for life advice and volleyball advice,” Mckayla Ward said. “I know I can tell her everything.”

Derner said the junior varsity deserves a lot of credit for how the varsity team performs. The varsity team plays against the junior varsity in practice.

“They’re the ones who prepared us and sent us to State,” Derner said. “This also includes the junior varsity’s coach, C-team and their coach. It is all 33 girls who make the team and wear the jersey.”

These four Lady Broncs have competed with each other since junior high school. They were on the team that won SEWAC championship when they were in eighth grade and Malm was in seventh.

“We’ve been there for all of each others important moments,” Derner said. “We’ve seen a lot of success together.”

Coach Patterson said throughout the years the girls have learned who plays what part on the team and how their different roles help them as a team. Coach Patterson also said the four Lady Broncs have a close bond with each other and they have been running the same system over the years. This is probably why they have such great trust on their team.

“Your team is your inner circle,” Mckayla Ward said. “Stick with them from freshman year to graduation, if not forever.”

Since this is the Wards’ and Derner’s Senior year, Derner said she’s probably done with her sports career. She said she might play on a team just for fun, but has other plans for her life. Mckayla Ward said she and her teammate Alex McCart promised each other they would make a team when they’re older and just keep playing so they never lose their skills. Mckenzie Ward said she doesn’t want to jinx it.

“The team went out with such a bang,” Derner said. “This was the best team that I can even imagine to go out with and there’s nothing that will even top that.”

In Pine Bluffs, Lady Hornet Jaden Ragsdale received All-Conference, All-Regional and All-State. Brooke Darden and Marina Howard both received All-Conference and All-Regional. Pine Bluffs volleyball Coach, Christina Nusbaum, was awarded SEWAC Coach of the Year.

This is Howard’s first year to receive an award. During her time at Regionals, she tripped over a ball and popped two ligaments. She said it was tough having to sit out, but her ankle has been healing very quickly.

When Howard had to sit out, Ragsdale said the team went into panic mode. Ragsdale said it was tough to lose against teams they had beat before. The team knew they had the potential of making it to state.

Darden said when the Lady Hornets first arrived at Regionals, it was scary. When Howard had to sit out, other teammates had to step in and the rotation would get messed up.

“It really messed with our heads,” Darden said.

The Lady Hornets finished with 17 wins and 7 losses.

Darden said, during the season, the team became more aggressive and were smart about their moves.

“One of our sayings was ‘Be Smart’,” Ragsdale said.

Ragsdale also said she has learned a lot about her teammates while being part of the Lady Hornets volleyball team. She has learned her teammates’ weaknesses, strengths and how to help one another. This helps her become closer to her teammates.

Darden said some games consisted of five sets. Darden said the team never gave up and worked as a team to the end. Another great accomplishment for the team was beating Burns Lady Broncs.

Darden believes the team is capable of going to State next year. She said some team members might rely on seniors, but they have to remember to not worry, keep their heads up and “be smart”.

Ragsdale hopes to continue her volleyball career in college along with getting a degree in Athletic Training.

Pine Bluffs, Burns, Southeast, Lusk and Lingle coaches have a SEWAC meeting the Tuesday before Regionals. All-Conference athletes, the SEWAC Coach of the Year and Athlete of the Year are decided at this meeting. Pine Bluffs, Burns, Southeast, Lusk and Saratoga have a Southeast meeting where they decide All-Regional athletes, Southeast Coach of the Year and Athlete of the Year. At both meetings, the top 12 athletes receive awards. For All-State, the top 16 are selected.

“You throw your kid’s name out there and show their best qualities and then they are voted on,” Coach Patterson said. “The whole goal is to represent the top athletes.”

Patterson said most coach selections are based on stats and coaching perspective. Who are the natural leaders? Which kids are working as hard as they can to get the job done? Southeast Lady Cyclone Jessie Lessard worn Player of the Year for both SEWAC and Southeast.

“The SEWAC Coach of the Year award is usually awarded to one of the top teams. However, if there is a standout coach that has done an outstanding job with her team, like Chris, then we try to vote for the coach that has worked super hard,” Patterson said.

Coach Patterson also said even though there is a rivalry, the coaches still try to look after one another and support each other. She said it’s nice to be honored by colleges she’s competing against.

“These awards are mostly based on the volleyball players. The players have to perform. Coaches wouldn’t receive awards if it wasn’t for the players. They have to do all the work and we’re just the voice. We can’t go out and perform for them. Coaches have to lead their teams to where they want them and then say ‘good luck,’” Coach Patterson said.


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