Hard-fought finish

Harrison Epstein photos
Mandi Tvedt (12), Adelaide Williams (from left), Skylar Harford and Amanda Shillcox celebrate winning a difficult point in the opening match against the Wind River Cougars. Glenrock lost the match 1–3.

By: 
Harrison Epstein harrison@glenrockind.com

 

There were no tears on the court. For three grueling back-and-forth sets, the Glenrock Lady Herders and Wright Lady Panthers used every bit of energy they had — it was the last game, no matter what.
When Glenrock ultimately lost, earning fourth place in the 2A State Tournament, it wasn’t a total loss. Everybody on the court from the coaches down huddled together and talked for one last time, thanked the referees, congratulated their opponents and turned up to the stands to show the Herder faithful their gratitude.
The emotions came later. After receiving their trophy, the team fought through the mosh pit of players and parents to get one last picture.
Posing together with the fruits of their labor, everything started to hit the senior quintet of Mandi Tvedt, Jaylee Rowe, Keely Ottersbach, Katelyn Cathcart and Peyton Shadrick. Since the fourth grade, they’ve been the heart and soul of volleyball teams in Glenrock.
But now? They get to end their time as teammates with the highest finish Glenrock High School has had in at least a decade. The team capped off its 18–18–2 season with a fourth-place finish in the tournament Nov. 9.
“I’m just thankful to be able to have played with these girls the last eight years. I’m glad we finally (placed at) State. It was a good way to go out,” Ottersbach said. “I think everything happened for a reason and we played the best we could have played.”
The Glenrock team played four matches over the three-day tournament, starting with the Wind River Cougars. Wind River came in as the top team in 2A West, battling for four sets before eventually falling.
It was a slow start to the tournament for the Lady Herders with Wind River winning the first two sets 22–25 and 20–25. GHS rallied together to take the third 25–20, but lost the match in the fourth.
Just like that, on the first day of play, the team’s hopes for a State Championship were dashed — but there was still volleyball to play. The Lady Herders returned to Casper on Friday for their consolation quarterfinal match against Greybull. Also making the trip with the team was a packed section of students, friends and family cheering loud enough to be heard from across the Casper Events Center.
Once again, this time against Greybull, the Lady Herders came out struggling. The Buffaloes took the first set 9–25, tied for the second-widest margin of victory in a single set during the tournaments and took the second 25–27. This was the deciding moment for the Glenrock girls.
They could either rally for three straight sets and live to fight another day, or end their season right then and there. Head coach Meghan Anderson’s squad opted to not give up.
Rallying at the most critical point all year, the Lady Herders bounced back to win 25–23, 26–24 and 20–18.
Sitting on the brink of a disappointing end to the year, the Lady Herders did what they’ve done all year under pressure. They held their ground and fought forward.
“We definitely put it all out this weekend,” Tvedt said. “I think some of us were tired, that’s going to happen at a State tournament when we’re playing three days all-out.”
Heading into the last day, Glenrock had one match guaranteed,  featuring a 9 a.m. bout with Rocky Mountain. Despite also finding themselves in the consolation bracket, the Grizzlies had plenty of momentum after a first-round upset over the Pine Bluffs Hornets.
This time, they only needed four sets to get through their western opponents. Glenrock won the first set 25–21, the third set 26–24 and the fourth 25–18. With the win in the books, the Lady Herders punched a ticket to the third-place game.
In the end, it was a rematch against the Wright Lady Panthers. This time, the Lady Panthers came out on top in three sets 17–25, 18–25 and 17–25.
While the rematch played out on the court, the opposing student sections, both of which came out in full force, aimed to support their classmates louder than one another.
“We put all of our effort out there and, just, things didn’t work out how we planned,” Tvedt said.
Just like that, the team’s moment on the biggest stage for the entire season came to a halt.
The girls in purple walked, as a battle-hardened team, up to the podium to forever solidify their efforts that got them there.
Following the tournament, the Wyoming Coaches Association revealed their All-Conference and All-State honorees. Tvedt, sophomore Adelaide Williams and junior Amanda Shillcox were named to the All-Conference team while Tvedt was the lone representative on the All-State team. It was the third straight All-State honor for Tvedt.
The absences of the entire senior class will be felt moving forward.
Anderson said she was thankful for the chance to have them as her first program as a coach, citing the character and leadership they showed day-in-and-day-out in addition to their on-court efforts.
While it will be an adjustment to be without this crop of seniors, the coaches are confident in the underclassmen returning. Shillcox and Alyssa Collier will be the eldest members of the team in 2020.
“Alyssa Collier’s going to be one that I will be expecting to definitely step up and lead. She will be our starting setter and one of my biggest leaders and role models for the underclassmen,” Anderson said.
Anderson is also expecting to bring back Skylar Harford, the team’s leading blocker in the season despite dealing with injuries, the libero Williams, Emma Wieser and Kyrah Hoppa, all of whom will be juniors in 2020.
The relentlessness of this year’s team was something they can hang their hats on looking back. They faced injuries, struggles, a learning curve for the young players and a first-year head coach. In spite of the uphill battle before them, the Lady Herders finished with one of their best seasons in a good while.

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