Posted Date: 09/06/2023
LOGAN - The Lady Longhorns took a path to redemption Saturday during their season-opening volleyball tournament.
First, they dominated defending champion Tucumcari 25-11, 25-14, 25-10 during the morning semifinals. The Lady Rattlers later wound up in third place after downing Grady in five sets.
Then the Lady Longhorns after a slow start downed Springer - the team that bounced Logan out of contention for the tournament title last year - by a score of 22-25, 25-16, 25-12, 25-20 in the finals. Logan regained the Logan Lady Longhorn Volleyball Tournament title it previously won in 2021.
Virtually all of a Lady Longhorns team that lacked seniors last season is returning this year. So coach Glynna Strand didn't do much reminding of last year's disappointment.
"It's never good to get beat in the first round of your own tournament," she said. "We didn't really mention it until we played Thursday (a win over Elida) in the quarterfinal game. We weren't going to let what happened last year happen this year."
Logan dominated Springer at the net with 45 kills, compared to 19 for the Red Devils. Haylie Bidegain led with 13 kills and four blocks for the Lady Longhorns, and teammate Kaylee Williams added 10 kills, two blocks and five service aces.
"We have some dominant hitters," Strand said. "Haylie and Kaylee, when they put the ball down, it stays down."
Logan arguably isn't even at full strength in the front row. One of its top hitters last season, Natalie Bongers, underwent surgery last week to repair a torn hip muscle suffered during powerlifting season. She is expected to be sidelined for three months.
It took the Lady Longhorns a while to find their groove against Springer. They fell behind 23-15 at one point in the first set, then went on a 7-1 tear.
Logan lost that set, but that rally set the tone for the rest of the match. The Lady Longhorns stormed to sizable leads in the next two sets.
Logan trailed 19-16 in the fourth set, but closed the match with a 9-1 run. Bidegain notched five kids during the rally.
During the semifinal match against Tucumcari, Logan never trailed in any of its three sets. The Lady Longhorns knocked of the Lady Rattlers off-balance with 15 service aces.
"We didn't do serve-receive well at all," Tucumcari coach Dana Benavidez said. "Our footwork wasn't good. We were totally out of sync. We've got to get good passes so our setters can set it up for our hitters."
Caylee Benavidez led Tucumcari with six kills.
Strand said her team's strong serving wasn't an accident.
"We've been working on it," she said. "We knew coming into this year we needed to have a more aggressive serve. That's one of our goals."
Strand also was pleased her team also started fast against Tucumcari. Her mostly inexperienced team last year went through periods of erratic play.
"One of our goals also is to not have a slow start," she said. "I think this year we're going to be a lot more mentally tough. We're pretty knowledgable about the game, and I think we're going to see that this year.
"It's always good to play Tucumcari. They're a good team," Strand added.
Williams led Logan with 10 kills, five blocks and four aces. Bidegain added nine kills, five blocks and one ace.