State Volleyball, Saturday

Sundance’s Rigan McInerney tips the ball over the net in the Class 2A title match against Wright on Saturday at the Wyoming State High School Volleyball Championships at the Casper Events Center.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

When Sundance needed a lift or a big play Saturday, senior Teila McInerney was more than happy to oblige.

McInerney had the game-winning kills in the first two sets and helped the Bulldogs rally from a late deficit in the third set to lead Sundance to a 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-23) sweep of three-time defending state champion Wright at the Casper Events Center.

“She’s been our go-to girl all year,” Sundance head coach Greta Crawford said. “She was great today, but it took all six of us on the court to make this happen. This was a total team effort.”

The victory not only allowed Sundance to avenge last year’s championship-game loss to Wright, but ended the Bulldogs’ 11-year state title drought.

Sundance trailed 16-14 in the first set when Crawford called a timeout to deliver a simple message to her team.

“We just weren’t executing early,” Crawford said. “We were in the right position to make plays, but we just weren’t making them. I just told them to stay focused and play their game.”

The Bulldogs took their coach’s advice to heart, going on a 7-1 run to take a 21-17 advantage.

Wright wasn’t about to relinquish its state championship without a fight, however, and battled back within 24-22 with a block at the net. But the 5-foot-9 McInerney ended the set with a thundering kill through the middle.

The Bulldogs were in control throughout the second set, with McInerney punctuating the victory with a blistering kill.

In the third set, Wright led 22-19 when Crawford called another timeout.

“We play a game every day in practice where we’re down 21-18 and we have to win,” she said. “I told them, ‘This is just like practice.’”

Again, the Bulldogs listened.

Sophomore Rigan McInerney began the rally with an ace. Following a kill by Wright senior Briannah Quick, Tiela McInerney scored the next three points — on a tip and two kills — to put the Bulldogs at match point at 24-23.

A short rally ended when a Wright kill sailed out of bounds and the Bulldogs began their victory celebration.

“Last year was a big pile of disappointment,” Tiela McInerney said, “so to win it all this year is absolutely amazing.

“We put in so much work all year ... we deserve this.”

Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @CASJackN

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Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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