mBarley able to contain herself at the edge of her seat, Rawlins head coach Marnie Garner eagerly grasped at every point.
For the last two seasons she watched her team’s promising postseasons end in quarterfinal upsets from the same spot at the end of the bench. As Lyman tied the fourth set on Thursday at 24-all, Garner thought she may have been witnessing deja vu all over again.
Then, with a kill that landed on the mat with little authority but signaled a linchpin, it was over.
Sophomore Jordan Jerome finally put down the match-winning kill in the fourth set to give Rawlins a 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 22-25, 28-26) win over the Eagles.
Garner knew how important that set was. She felt doom looming in a fifth set.
“I did not want to do that,” Garner said. “In fact I was fearful of that when we got down by three or four points. I attribute that to the girls. There’s nothing I can do to help that, they just had to pull it together and had great leadership out there.”
Rawlins had been strong all season behind the play of senior McKayla Earl and freshman McKenzie Earl. But the Lady Outlaws needed to find an extra gear in order to beat Lyman and its incredibly talented front line led by standout junior McKinley Bradshaw.
Junior Brooklyn Arnold served on the final match point and she provided a lift for the Outlaws, defensively.
Rawlins advances to play West No. 1 Riverton in the semifinals.
The Wolverines made quick work of Torrington, winning in straight sets (25-20, 25-11, 25-17) with a well-rounded attack. Senior Taylenn Thompson made the biggest impact in the match and had the ‘Blazers guessing.
Riverton confirmed its authority halfway through the second set and did not let up.
On the other side of the bracket, Douglas defeated Mountain View in four sets (25-20, 25-15, 23-25, 25-21).
The Bearcats came out strong but the Buffaloes kept hanging around until, ultimately, Douglas’ defense was too much. Junior Haedyn Rhoades had 13 digs in the four sets, helping frustrate a potent offense.
“I love being in the back row,” Rhoades said, “and I just love flying around, getting touches on everything that I can.”
When their backs were against the wall most, the Bearcats clawed back with stellar digs or a big block that stymied Mountain View’s big hitters — Karlee Hereford, Baylee Tims and Kindee Carter.
Douglas will play Worland in the semifinals after the Warriors dethroned defending champion Star Valley in straight sets (25-23, 25-19, 25-17).
The Warriors kept getting digs and sending balls over to the Braves, who grew increasingly frustrated, and their attacking percentage suffered because of it.
Douglas beat Worland 3-1 earlier this season, which has the Bearcats excited.
“I’m getting chills just thinking about it,” Rhoades said. “We just have to come out with a lot of energy and a lot of intensity.”