The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Don Ogle 

Lady Raiders season ends in district final


November 8, 2017

Donna Wiedburg

Junior Payton Jung returns a hit while her teammates back her up during the Lady Raiders game against Elkhorn South Saturday. The Lady Raiders season ended with a 20-14 record.

ELKHORN -- Continued improvement was one of the mantras for Sidney's volleyball team this season, a goal they ultimately achieved despite a disappointing district loss here Saturday.

After securing a wildcard spot in the D8 Finals, the Lady Raiders made the long trip to Elkhorn South to face an opponent they really didn't know anything about.

"We knew they were seeded fourth, and they had a good reputation as a tough team," said Sidney Coach Lu Howard. "But we didn't have any tape on them."

Facing that unknown, Howard and the Lady Raiders concentrated on the one thing they could control - their own preparedness.

"We concentrated on the chemistry of our team," Howard said. "To do the things they could do well and as good as they possibly could."

Elkhorn South lived up to their reputation from the start, rocking Sidney early in a 25-17 first set loss. But the Lady Raiders showed they were for real in the second set, matching the Storm attack and taking a 19-17 lead down the stretch.

But in a game of momentum, Sidney lost theirs following a couple of calls Howard felt could have gone the other way. Elkhorn South rallied to a 25-21 second set win, and never really let Sidney back in the door in the 25-19 last set.

Sidney's offense was led by Mattie Johnson, Payton Jung and Katelyn Sylvester, who combined for 18 kills, Johnson with nine of those.

"It was definitely one of our best matches of the year," Howard said. "I asked them to play as a team, and they did that."

Throughout the season Howard has always expected more from the team, hoping to help them push to the next level of play.

Reflecting, she feels they met many of the expectations under less than perfect circumstances.

"It was a good season overall," Howard said. "The girls had to deal with a new coaching staff and new techniques, as well as the loss of several seniors.

"Given the circumstances, I think they did very well."

Sidney closed the season at 20-14, finishing just shy of its second straight state berth.


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