Natrona vs. Jackson Volleyball

Natrona County’s Madison Gillum tries to hit over the block of Jackson’s Lily Stiles on Friday in Casper.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

The Natrona County volleyball team picked a perfect time to find its rhythm.

The Fillies beat Evanston 3-1 (23-25, 25-14, 28-26, 25-18) Saturday for their third consecutive victory since making some lineup changes.

“We moved Kate (Robertson) back to the middle and put Parker (Mooren) on the outside and it’s been working,” Natrona County head coach Michael Botkin said.

It definitely worked Saturday as the sophomore Mooren had 11 kills, including four in the final set, and her classmate Robertson scored the final point of the third set with a drop shot and teamed with Bre Kelly for the match-winning block.

It was a gutsy performance from Mooren, who had to be carried off the court after rolling her ankle in the first set.

Mooren had 10 of her 11 kills after returning late in the second set.

“My ankle is pretty numb, but I forgot about it about two plays after I came back in,” she said. “When I rolled it, all I could think about was that I wasn’t going to play sports again.

“So it was important that I came back. After that it was fun because everything seemed to come together for us.”

Evanston trailed 22-20 in the first set but rallied for the 25-23 win on a kill from junior Ajahonna Archuleta.

The Fillies took control of the second set early with numerous players pitching in. Seniors Kylie Watson, Bre Kelly, Kristy Dick and Emilie Fittje, along with junior Madison Gillum all played a role in helping Natrona County even the match.

“That’s when we’re at our best,” said Dick, who finished with a team-high 20 kills. “We have multiple people we can get the ball to. And Kylie is an amazing defender, and Bre played great defense.”

The Red Devils rallied from a 24-21 deficit in the third set to even the third set at 24-all. The score was tied again at 25 and 26 until Dick scored on a tip and Robertson got the set-winner.

Natrona County never trailed in the fourth set after a kill down the line from Mooren made it 14-13.

“Having Parker on the outside is a real asset,” Dick said. “I think she’s just starting to realize how good she can be.”

Looking over the final stats, Botkin couldn’t help but be impressed.

Dick, Gillum (17), Fittje (13) and Mooren all had double-digit kills; Watson had 20 digs; and Kelly had 66 assists to go along with five aces.

“I thought they really sold out for each other today,” Botkin said. “And this is a perfect time for our chemistry to start to click.”

Natrona County improved to 4-3 in Class 4A West conference play, putting them one-half game back of Green River (4-2) and one game up on Evanston (3-4) for the conference’s No. 2 seed. Kelly Walsh leads the way at 7-0.

The Fillies head to Green River and Rock Springs next weekend ahead of the regular-season finale VolleyBowl match against Kelly Walsh on Oct. 19.

“We didn’t have the greatest start to the season, but now we’re 2-0 in the second half,” Dick said.

Added Botkin: “I always think we’re more focused when we’re on the road. Now we just have to take care of business.”

Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @CASJackN

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Jack Nowlin is sports editor of the Star-Tribune.

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