Punchers improve perfect conference record

Robert Galbreath photo

BIG PINEY – Scoring a second win against St. Stephens on Sept. 23, the Puncher volleyball team rose to the top of the 2A Southwest Quadrant, boasting an undefeated record.

The Big Piney varsity squad brought its A-game on Friday night, leaving St. Stephens to pick up the pieces after the Punchers won three sets by significant margins.

On Thursday, Sept. 23, Big Piney squared off against top-ranked 3A rival Mountain View. The Buffalos took home the victory, 3-0, but the Punchers put up a strong fight in the first set against their powerful opponent.

Mountain View

The Punchers hit the court ready to play on Thursday, forcing the Buffalos to fight for points in a close first set. Big Piney took the lead right out of the gates.

Senior Hanna Hansen delivered a kill for the first point. Junior Lexi Hoffman aced a serve for point 2. The Buffalos found themselves tangled in the net as they struggled to send the ball over the net. Junior Hannah Runyan reached up for a block to score point 5.

Mountain View caught up at point 7 to tie the set and gradually widened the gap. Lexi Hoffman kept the pressure on with a kill. Runyan made another block, followed by a kill and an ace from Hansen. Senior Sierra Keiter pulled hit over point 16 and blocked for point 17.

The Buffalos won the set, 25-18.

Lexi Hoffamn led with four kills. Runyan made two blocks. Senior Ceci Sambrano covered the court on defense, tallying up 10 digs. Fellow senior Jocie Banks made five assists.

The Buffalos regrouped in the next two sets, overpowering the Punchers with strong hits and a stout defense, winning, 25-9 and 25-7.

“Mountain View is a great contender, and we came out fighting in the first set,” said head coach Kinsey Voss. “Unfortunately, we didn’t keep that intensity and confidence throughout the match. We are learning that no matter who’s on the other side of the net, we always have to focus on our jobs and play to win.”

St. Stephens

Taking the lessons learned from playing Mountain View, the Punchers trounced St. Stephens.

Big Piney took an early lead in the first set and never looked back. Runyan blocked for point 2 and Banks tapped over point 3. Keiter maintained the Punchers’ momentum with a pair of kills followed by two aces. Lexi Hoffman blocked for point 17. Keiter continued her serving streak with four more aces, including game point at 25-8.

The Punchers scored first in the second set. Hansen delivered a kill, assisted by Banks for point 1. Runyan tapped over point 2 and Sambrano aced the third point.

St. Stephens caught up, tying the game briefly at points 3 and 4. Big Piney ramped up the intensity and took control of the court after point 6.

Senior Autumn Wright served over an ace for point 7. Banks delivered a kill, assisted by Wright, for point 10. Runyan played a block and delivered an ace. Keiter struck with three kills. Wright bumped over a point from deep in the court.

The Punchers won, 25-13.

Lexi Hoffman opened the third set with four aces. Runyan blocked for point 8. Junior Brynne Hoffman delivered three aces, widening the gap to 14 points. Hansen, Sambrano, Wright and Lexi Hoffman poured on the offensive pressure. Banks set the ball up for Hansen to hit over a kill and game point, 25-14.

Hansen led kills with six. Runyan played two blocks. Sambrano pulled off three digs. Banks made nine assists and Keiter served up six aces.

“We got to have a little fun in this game,” said coach Voss. “We got to use our bench a lot and get them some good play time. This game brought a lot of smiles and we all got to enjoy the match.”