By Kristan Krogman
The White River Lady Tigers capped an exciting run at the 2012 Lakota Nation Invitational volleyball tournament with a 3rd place victory over defending champions, Tiospa Zina.
The Tigers opened play Friday versus Crow Creek with a 2-0 victory and went on to beat Cheyenne Eagle Butte and St. Francis on day one of pool play.
On Saturday, the girls recorded wins over Tiospa Zina, Red Cloud, and Little Wound to go undefeated through pool play.
Earning the top seed in their pool, the Lady Tigers went up against Custer in the semi-finals. Custer, a regular in tournament action at LNI, brought a tough challenge for White River. The Wildcats took set one 25-12 before the Lady Tigers bounced back with an 18-25 advantage in set two.
The set three tie break saw the Lady Tigers trailing 7-11 before a 7-3 run ended with a Gabbie Waln block that tied the score at 14. The two teams traded scoring in the points that followed, tying the game on four occasions. Custer’s hitting, though, slowly wore down their opponent with six big kills down the stretch. They captured victory, taking the third set 25-22.
Facing Tiospa Zina in the 3rd/4th place game, the Lady Tigers struggled to rebound from the disappointing semi-final loss and went down in the first set 18-25. Tiospa Zina played a good first set, committing just five errors, while White River had just three players, Waln, Dusti Good Shield, and Ashlyn Plooster, with multiple winners.
White River turned things around in the second with Good Shield tallying seven winners through the set. The Tigers were more aggressive and it carried over into their serving. Free points on aces by Courtney Charging Hawk, Waln, Shelley Wilcox, and Rachel Astleford benefited the Lady Tigers, and they evened the match with a 25-21 advantage.
Playing in another 3rd set tie break, the Lady Tigers again were slow in settling into the game. Tiospa Zina also struggled early on, though they led by six at 9-3. The two teams combined for just four winners in the first 18 points of the set. Play steadily improved, especially for White River who scored the game’s next five winners. After points by Waln and Good Shield helped the team draw even at 14, Rachel Astleford turned the game around for the Lady Tigers with three winners in quick succession. A Charging Hawk ace and another kill by Waln followed, extending the Lady Tiger lead to four, 19-15. Back to back winners by the Wambdi later drew them to within one, 23-22, but back to back unforced errors followed, and the Lady Tigers captured the third place vase, 25-22.
White River’s Gabbie Waln was named to the All-Tournament team.
Pine Ridge won the tournament. They went 8-0 en route to the championship, beating Custer 2-0 in the final.
Brook Pond of Pine Ridge won the tournament MVP award, while Custer’s Tia Goebel was named the Outstanding Setter. Contessa Vasquez of Little Wound was selected as the Defensive Specialist and Oelrichs received the Team Sportsmanship award.