Riverside netters take fourth at regionals

Shayne Mazur

The Lady Rebels battled through four opponents at the Class 1A West Regional in Riverton to capture a fourth-place finish and the chance to claim a consecutive state volleyball title.
The best tournament play sees two opponents going point-for-point, and the third-place matchup between Riverside and Burlington certainly delivered. The game went to five nail-biting sets. The Lady Rebels won the first two sets, 25-13, 26-24, before the Lady Huskies came back swinging to win the final three, 23-25, 22-25, 13-15 and capture third place overall.
Riverside’s serving suffered at 81%, but the netters played aggressive at the net and on the floor. Brooklynn Paxton made 24 kills and Vinaya VanderPloeg added 21. VanderPloeg also had 22 digs, and Paxton and Dakota Cervantes contributed 18 digs apiece.
Cervantes provided 41 of the team’s 48 assists.
“Our front line showed the ability to be aggressive at the net during regionals. It is essential for us to stay aggressive throughout each match while making good decisions on the ball,” said coach Cindi Smith.
The road to Riverside’s final match began with a three-set victory, 26-24, 25-18, 25-10, over Encampment on Friday. Team serving stood at 92% with Anna Stone and Cervantes going 100% behind the line and adding aces to the scoreboard.
Paxton and VanderPloeg contributed 10 kills each. On the defensive side, Paxton made 16 digs, VanderPloeg 13 and Cervantes 10.
The Lady Rebels met a tougher opponent in Little Snake River, losing in three tight sets, 27-29, 20-25, 23-25. Little Snake River went on to place second, falling only to Cokeville in the regional championship game.
Riverside served at 91% thanks to Kennedy Bassett and Stone’s work behind the service line. VanderPloeg matched her kills and digs at 19 apiece. Paxton added 10 kills and 14 digs, and Cervantes provided 33 assists.
“We will work on fine tuning our rotations to utilize our strengths,” Smith noted.
The Lady Rebels secured their place at state by defeating Dubois in a three setter, 25-19, 25-16, 25-17.
VanderPloeg, Paxton and Cervantes continued their stellar weekend performances. VanderPloeg served 100% behind the line and chalked up four aces, 19 kills and 17 digs. Paxton served 93% and made three aces, 15 kills and 20 digs.
Cervantes added 11 digs and 36 assists.
Looking to the state tournament, Smith said, “We will work on serving with confidence and taking care of the controllables. It is important for us to play consistently and with intention throughout the weekend in order to reach our fullest potential.”
The opening round of the Class 1A Volleyball Championships begins today (Thursday, Nov. 2) at the Casper Event Center. Riverside will face Upton, the No. 1 seed from the east, in a 1 p.m. game.
The netters will square off with either Little Snake River or Hulett on Friday. The winners’ bracket game starts at 4:30 p.m. If not there, the Lady Rebels will play at 1 p.m.
On the other side of the 1A bracket, Southeast plays Burlington and Cokeville faces Guernsey-Sunrise.
“The team is excited for state volleyball and is focused on playing at the highest level this season,” Smith said.