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Panther netters take third in home tourney

by David Tesitor
WALSENBURG — The John Mall Lady Panthers hosted their annual volleyball tournament and finished third in the round-robin matches.
A total of eight teams participated from Pueblo to Del Norte so the action was tough and competitive. Two separate pools of four competed with each team playing one another to determine which would advance to the championship brackets.
The Panthers faced tough competition as they opened play, taking on the Manzanola Bobcats. The Panthers came out slow but were able to overcome a battling Manzanola team, finally taking the first game 25-20. The Lady Panthers then put away the Bobcats in the second game to take the set two games to none.
Next up was the Wildcats of Pueblo Central. The Panthers dominated the first game, running away with a score of 25-6 but faltered the next, letting the game slip away from them and losing 22-25. It took the rubber match of the set before the Panthers came alive again winning easily 15-12 off a strong kill by Karley Lasley, driving the ball to the Wildcat back line. John Mall led in the game 11-6 but managed to hang on to win the set.
The Del Norte Tigers were in their pool and they had also defeated both the Bobcats and Wildcats, setting up a ‘winner advances to the championship round’ match.
The Tigers versus the Panthers match-up proved to be too much for the Panthers. The Tigers, who are coming off a successful 17-5 record last season, returned several players on the varsity roles. In the end, they proved too much for the Panthers and won in two games, 25-17 and 25-15.
The loss pitted the Panthers against the number-2 seed in the A pool, the Salida Spartans. It took three games for the Panthers to win the match, winning the first, 25-15, losing the second, 16 -25, and easily winning the third game, 15-7.
John Mall played Crowley County Tuesday but the final statistics were not available by press time. Afterwards, Coach Mike Vigil said he was pleased with where the team was going and how they were playing.