The 2017 eighth grade volleyball season ended on a high note on Oct. 14 at the district tournament held in Upton. The Little Lady Bulldogs went into the tournament after having a very successful season ending up with a 13-2 record.
Their only two losses had come at the hands of Gillette’s Twin Spruce A squad and the Wright Lady Panthers. The eighth grade Lady Bulldogs went into the tournament with a number two seed and had a bye the first round.
In their first game, the Bulldogs managed to get by a tough Moorcroft team with scores of 25-21 and 25- 17. That moved the girls into the championship game against the number one seed Wright Panthers who had beaten them in conference play on Tuesday.
The Lady Bulldogs switched from a 6-2 offense to a 5-1 offense in order to allow their best passer, Cana McInerney, to match up against the Panthers’ best hitter. This move helped the Bulldogs stop Wright from getting any momentum and allowed the Bulldogs to get their own powerful offense on track.
The girls ended up winning in three sets 28-26, 14-25 and 15-11 to bring home first place in the eighth grade division for the third year in a row and finishing their season 15-2.
The players this year were captains Cana McInerney and Briska Johnson, Ty Holloman, Brook and Bailey Hofland, Destiny Gonzales, Sydney Robinson and Ella Bifulco. Leaders statistically in different aspects of the game wer
e as follows:
Briska Johnson led the team in serving with a 97 percent serving efficiency and she finished her season very successfully doing all the setting in the 5-1 offense in districts. Ty Holloman played middle hitter most of the year and occasionally outside hitter.
She led the way in blocking and with her jumping and hitting ability she showed flashes of her great potential as a hitter/blocker and will be able to make impact at the high school level right away next year.
Cana McInerney was a strong all- around player that set, served, passed and played outside hitter. She led the team in kills this year as well as being the team’s strongest defender and speaking captain on the floor. She will be able to be effective at the next level from day one.
Bailey Hofland played middle hitter and blocker and finished second on the team in serving efficiency. She had some crucial blocks this year and several of those were in the district tournament. Bailey also developed into a very consistent middle hitter and had very few hitting errors over the course of the season.
Brook Hofland played right-side hitter, which was a change for her this year, and she came through with some great blocking and hitting as well as improving as a back-up setter. Her hustle on the floor was evident all year.
Destiny Gonzales took over a starting role from Ella Bifulco this year, as Ella was out most of the season with an injury. She did a great job passing for the team this year and improved her serving percentage greatly over the course of the season.
Sydney Robinson was the team’s sole substitute from the eighth grade class for the year and she came off the bench and helped when and wherever she was needed during the season. Ella Bifulco worked hard all season to overcome a knee injury in order to be eligible to play at the end of the season. She was able to come back and play outside hitter for the Bulldogs at the district tournament and helped the team bring home first place.
As I say every year, and this year is certainly no exception, the community will be able to enjoy watching this talented group of volleyball players in years to come as they move up to the high school level next year. They will help to fill in some gaps that will be left when the Lady Bulldogs graduate four very fine seniors.
I wish them all success as they move up to join a successful bulldog volleyball team at the high school level.
Submitted by Coach Andrea Humphrey