Sunday, October 18, 2009


Lady Devils come from behind to beat Green River
Clinch state tournament berth

After dropping the first two games to Green River on Wednesday, the Lady Devils rebounded and won the last three games to win the match and claim a berth in the 4A state volleyball tournament .
"In the beginning, we didn't play so great. It was deja vu from the first two times we played Green River," Evanston coach Tera Lawlar said.
The Lady Devils won 23-25 , 20-25 , 25-20 , 25-12 , 15-12 . "In the first game we battled. It was a sideout game. We were going pointfor-point ," Lawlar said. "We felt like Green River was dictating, though. We were playing at their pace." Lawlar said the first game got off to an atypical start. After the first nine points, Evanston's standout senior Erin Kirby had yet to touch the ball. She had only touched the ball three times in the first 17 points. "We only lost by two, so we felt pretty okay," Lawlar said. "We knew our team could do more and we wanted the girls to snap out of it." The second game went even worse for the Lady Devils.
Evanston got down 11-1 early in the game before rebounding to lose the game by five points.
"Nothing was working for us. The kids didn't fold. They played hard. Things just weren't working and Green River seemed perfect," Lawlar said. "We turned things around (in the game) and that gave us some hope. There seemed to be so much more effort on our side. We did a good job battling back after spotting them 10 or 11 points."
Assistant coach Matt Petersen gave the girls a pep talk after the second game.
"He said, 'We're going five. We're going five.' He gave them that edge of confidence. It was huge for us," Lawlar said. "We went out looking more confident . He totally redirected any kind of doubt we had after the first two games. We felt like we had control. After that, we dictated the game and speed."
The Lady Devils used that to win the third game 25-20 .
"The kids realized they had to fight harder and Green River thought things were going too easy. From game one our blocking was on, but it really picked up in game three," Lawlar said. "Our passing got better. Green River started to tip more. In the first two games their tips landed for kills, but we made some subtle defensive changes. We picked up the tips and were able to attack back at them," she added. Kirby led the Lady Devils with 12 solo blocks. Kelsi Thornock and Lauren Thomas each had seven solo blocks. Lawlar said game four was the opposite of game two, with Evanston dominating and winning 25-12 . "We knew we had to go out hard in game five. Our girls were embarrassed in game two and we rebounded in game three," Lawlar said. "We did that to them in game four, so we knew they could turn it around in game five." Evanston got ahead 6-1 in the fifth game. Green River crept closer 7-3 , 10-7 , 12-11 . Lawlar called a timeout and then Green River missed a serve. Lawlar said she wasn't sure what happened on the last couple points because she couldn't watch. The Lady Devils won the game 15-12 to win the match and become regular season conference champions. "We pulled it off," Lawlar said. "We're conference champions and that's exciting. We're going to state and that's a great feeling. That hasn't happened for a long time."
The Lady Devils only graduated one senior from last year's team that went 3-7 in conference. Evanston is 8-1 in conference . The Lady Devils played their final regular season conference match Thursday after our press time.
"It's amazing to have a team that couldn't qualify for state last year earn a bye. It's really neat for them to go from 3-7 to turn around and win conference, a tough conference," Lawlar said. "The girls wrote on the board at practice Wednesday 'We're not done yet, girls.' The kids had a hard time enjoying the win because they're not done yet. I told them to enjoy it that night and we'd get back to work (Wednesday)."
As a team, Evanston knocked down 54 kills and only made 12 hitting errors.
"I'll take that for the rest of the season, especially against a team like Green River," Lawlar said.
Kirby led the team with 24 of those kills. Thornock had 15 kills and Katie Thomas added nine. Jessica Chandler served five aces and made no service errors. Chandler also had 20 assists, while Abbey Ehlers had 23 assists.
Bernie Gutierrez led the defense with 15 digs and Alyssa Hagstrom came up with 14 digs.


Lady Devils best Natrona in tough five-game match
EHS controls own postseason fate By KURT RITZMAN Herald Sports Editor

Evanston finished off a regular season sweep of Natrona County on Saturday night with a five-game victory to move to 7-1 in conference play. The Lady Devils beat top-ranked Natrona County 28-30 , 25-21 , 27-25 , 26-28 , 15-10 . "I was really proud of them," Evanston coach Tera Lawlar said. "They were really proud of themselves ." Lawlar said the match probably featured the two best players in the state going against each other.
Evanston won that individual match up, as well as the more-important team match, with Erin Kirby outplaying Natrona's Baillie Gibson.
Gibson finished the game with 18 kills and seven blocks.
Kirby knocked down 25 kills and had 12 blocks.
"Erin was really huge for us, but you've got to have more than one player in such close games," Lawlar said. "As a team, we outworked Natrona the whole match."
Lawlar said Evanston's blocking played a big role in the win. Kelsi Thornock had five solo blocks in addition to Kirby's 12.
"The first game was really backand-forth , but we weren't really getting the output we wanted," Lawlar said. "After we lost the first game 30-28 , something just didn't feel right."
Lawlar switched Lauren Thomas to right side and Katie Thomas to outside hitter.
"They embraced the change," Lawlar said. "It wasn't that big of a deal to them and it immediately made a positive impact."
Lauren Thomas had three kills and two solo blocks as the right side hitter early in the second game.
Katie Thomas knocked down 19 kills, while making only two errors in her first varsity action as an outside hitter.
"Katie played phenomenal," Lawlar said. "She really stepped up."
Lawlar said the Lady Devils would explore whether to keep the new lineup for the rest of the season and may have to make other changes Tuesday against Green River.
"We have a lot of depth, which allows us to make some changes based on what the other team is doing," Lawlar said. "It's like playing a little chess match."
Evanston served well during the match, committing only five service errors. Only one of those occurred during the fourth game, and none were in the fifth game.
"They were so mature during it, for all of the games being so close. They were battling and held their composure ," Lawlar said of her team. "They all had that look of confidence. They all looked like they wanted to have the ball. They had confidence in each other and themselves. I'm really proud of them."
Abbey Ehlers had 28 assists and Jessica Chandler had 27 in the win.
Another key for the Lady Devils was their defense. Alyssa Hagstrom came up with 29 digs and Bernie Gutierrez had 24 against Natrona County.
"Our defense is so relentless. It's going to take a lot to get the ball down on our side of the net," Lawlar said. "I was proudest of how hard they worked. Every point was important."
The Lady Devils have a big week ahead of them to close out the regular season. Evanston travels to Green River tonight and hosts Star Valley on Thursday. If the Lady Devils win both matches, they will be 9-1 in regular season conference play, be the regular season champions and have an automatic berth to the state tournament.
"If we win, we've got it. It's nice to be in control," Lawlar said. "( The win over Natrona) definitely prepared us for Green River. I loved the way the girls battled and loved their confidence ."
Lawlar said Tuesday against Green River was going to be the big, emotional game, but they had to show up to play Thursday against Star Valley to finish out the season. Riverton The Lady Devils swept Riverton 25-15 , 25-12 , 25-16 on the road Friday night. "We passed very, very well," Lawlar said. Of Evanston's 35 passes, 29 were either perfect or almost perfect. "That's impressive passing," Lawlar said. "Our hitting was very good, as well." Kirby led the team with 24 kills and 11 solo blocks. Thornock added seven kills and six solo blocks. Gutierrez led the defense with 14 digs.

Casper Star Tribune Oct. 2009

Evanston's Erin Kirby and Natrona County's Baillie Gibson played a game of "anything you can do, I can do better" at NC's Dalton Gym on Saturday.

In the end, it was Kirby and the Red Devils who escaped with the 3-2 victory (28-30, 25-21, 27-25, 26-28, 15-10) to take sole possession of first place in the Class 4A West volleyball standings.

Fittingly, Kirby blocked an attack to end the match. The 5-foot-11 senior finished with 12 blocks and 25 kills as Evanston improved to 7-1 in conference play.

"Erin was huge for us," Evanston coach Teran Lawlar said. "She had 12 solo blocks ... that's a season for some players."

Gibson was nearly as impressive with 18 kills and seven blocks.

In a match befitting two of the top teams in the state -- NC entered the match ranked No. 1 while Evanston was No. 3 -- the Red Devils and Fillies battled on even terms throughout.

NC (6-2) fought off four game points in the opener before prevailing when an Evanston attack didn't clear the net.

The Red Devils pulled even in the second game behind Kirby and junior Katie Thomas.

Thomas, playing on the outside for the first time this season, had three kills during a 6-0 run late in the game. Thomas finished with 19 kills.

"We made some lineup changes [Saturday] and they paid off," Lawlar said. "And I thought we eliminated our service errors and played with a lot of emotion."

Gibson (five kills, two blocks) and Kirby (six kills, three blocks) exchanged shots in the third game, but it was NC sophomore Rahnee Jackson who nearly gave the Fillies the win.

Jackson, filling in for senior Ashley Straughan, had six kills in the game, including a well-timed attack that just got by two Evanston blockers and gave NC a 25-24 lead.

"I was proud of the way we had some girls step up," NC coach Sally Nichols said. "We weren't fully loaded, but Evanston is a good team, and they played a good match."

Following Jackson's attack, Thomas and Alyssa Hagstrom came up with back-to-back kills and the Fillies were whistled for a controversial net violation on game point as Evanston took a 2-1 lead.

Gibson came up with a big kill on match point to keep NC alive in the next game, and two Evanston miscues gave the Fillies the win.

In the end, though, NC was unable to overcome Kirby, who controlled the net in the decisive game, finishing with five kills and the match-winning block.

"There were three games that could have gone either way," Nichols said. "Unfortunately, they didn't go our way."

Evanston can wrap up the regular-season title with a win at Green River on Tuesday, although a loss would keep both the Red Devils and Wolves (6-1), as well as the Fillies, alive for the conference's top spot.

"There's no doubt that matches like this one [Saturday] make us a better team," Lawlar said. "The win helps solidify our position, but we came into this season with high expectations and we still have work to do.