A solid rivalry means battling to be the best. Alliance stepped on their home volleyball court Saturday having never lost a match to Sidney in 2018. This day the two Panhandle teams met with the Western Conference crown on the line. The Bulldogs came out swinging to snag set one, 25-18. In the second set both teams scrapped as Sidney pulled even, 25-23. The Red Raiders stayed ahead in set three, winning 25-17, and took the match 2-1.

“We started out playing them pretty well,” AHS Head Coach Jessica Kaiser said of the Sidney match, “but then our defense started to really struggle, we let a lot of balls drop in the middle that we don't normally let drop. We were on our heals and were really struggling.”

Regarding the second set, “Again, it was our defense that struggled. We weren't getting to our defensive positions so they were able to rally on us,” she said.

“I know our girls are pretty disappointed with the level of play we were performing at in the third set. We have done a great job all season staying focused but it just really couldn't get any momentum going in the third set. We were making mistakes that we don't normally make,” Kaiser said.

Sidney has been a guaranteed challenge every meeting this season. Kaiser said, “Sidney is a tough team that you can't allow to rally. We were in control and after they got going we just couldn't get our game picked up.”

Alliance started off the morning in pool play versus Gering. The host team had little trouble with the visiting Bulldogs winning in straight sets, 25-12 and 25-13. “The girls came out really strong first thing in the morning and played a solid match the whole time. We played to our level the whole match and did some really great things,” Kaiser said.

Chadron offered more of a challenge in the second pool play match. Through a tight set the Bulldogs managed to come from behind to open against Chadron, breaking a tie and earning a 26-24 win. “You can never count our girls out of a match when we are behind, they normally do a great job regrouping and rallying back,” she said.

In the second set with Chadron, Alliance saw a relatively comfortable 6-point lead. “I think the girls just stayed focused,” Kaiser said. “Chadron is a good team with some strong attackers, I think our blockers stepped it up and helped us get going in the second set.”

Taking the day overall, “We started out the day playing really strong and as the day went on I don't think we kept to that level,” Kaiser noted. “That is something we will continue to work on, just playing our best and to our level the whole time.”

Great highlights Kaiser saw? “We did have some great net play at times throughout the day and served pretty well overall as a team.”

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