The lady Cougars volleyball squad is off to a roaring start. The team recently competed at the Cat Clash tournament put on by Echo High School on Saturday, Sept. 7. The Cougs played in the "A" pool with Echo, Jewell and DeSales. Each round lasted a maximum of 25 minutes. The second game didn't count as a win unless either team reached 15 points.

The ladies sailed through their pool, defeating Nixyaawii, 25-17, 8-8, while Echo fell to Cougar claws 27-25, 1-0. Jewell likewise fell, 25-18, 25-9 while DeSales fared no better, succumbing 25-4, 25-9.

As the Cougs won the pool, they were bused to Stanfield to play pool B's first-place team, Stanfield. The lady Cougars lost in three sets, 16-25, 21-25, and 18-25. Coach Janea Hulse said the scores don't reflect the intensity of the games. Hulse noted the ladies made some unforced errors, but the team put forth a valiant effort despite a  big block against Cougars hitters. Hulse said she saw a lot of improvement throughout the day and in the final sets.

"It (the tournament) has shown us our weak areas and our strengths," she said. "I feel positive about how the girls played and I'm very excited for our next game."

Player highlights versus Stanfield included Jamie Johnston's four kills and four solo blocks. Johnston also tied with Shanna Rae Tillery in consistent passing on defense and serve receive. Johnston had no serving errors and played solid all the way around. Shanna Rae Tillery also had four kills and tied with Johnston in serve receive and defense in passing, which was on target to the setter. Like Johnston, Tillery had no serving errors and is one of the team's servers and aggressive players.

Ashlyn Young also came in for kudos for her hard work on the court. Hulse described her as an aggressive player who works to get to every set. As the team's only setter, Young is involved in every play of the game and essentially serves as the Cougars' quarterback who leads the girls well. Young has also adjusted well to a changing offense.

"All the girls played well and are improving everyday," Hulse said. "As long as they can keep their work ethic and attitude up, they will do great things."

The Cougs are 3-1 overall and next play at Powder Valley on Thursday, Sept 12.

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