FREMONT COUNTY – Over the weekend there were plenty of reasons to celebrate, whether it be the return of football or perhaps there was another celebration that was happening, but one of the biggest reasons was the return of Wyoming High School volleyball in Fremont County. That came in the form ofLander’s annual Lander Invite, which was so well-attended and had so many teams sign up that the Tigers’ High School and Middle School courts could not hold the massive amount of teams from around Wyoming, so Wyoming Indian helped out and offered their courts as well.
So both of Fremont County’s large gymnasiums, Al Redman Gymnasium and Bob Carey Memorial Fieldhouse, were filled to the brim with local volleyball players making their varsity and junior varsity debuts with many of them performing pretty well.
First off, the home team Lander Valley (LVHS) Lady Tigers started off the whole weekend with a matchup against Powell which did not go their way, losing 3-1 (25-12, 25-20, 20-25, 25-18) in Coach McFadden’s first game as head coach of LVHS. They tried and failed in their second game of the day too, falling to 4A’s Sheridan by a score of 3-2 (22-25, 24-26, 25-23, 25-21, 15-11).
Things didn’t go their way on Saturday’s second day of play either, falling in the first matchup of the day against another 4A team, Cody, by a score of 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-14). But, they would eventually get their first win of the McFadden era with a shutout victory over Big Piney (25-10, 25-11, 25-13).
Another local team that played in the invite, Shoshoni’s Lady Blue, had a much better weekend with their first-year head coach. They did so by starting off Friday with back-to-back victories, first winning 3-0 over Wyoming Indian (25-7, 25-10, 25-15) and then over their cross-county rivals Wind River by a score of 3-1 (25-12, 19-25, 25-21, 25-20).
The Lady Blue kept it up on Saturday, beating Big Piney with another 3-0 shutout (25-23, 25-22, 25-17). But, their eventual first loss finally reared it’s ugly head as they rounded out the Lander Invite with a loss to 3A’s Pinedale by a shutout in the opposite favor (25-9, 25-18, 25-17).
Shoshoni’s rivals, the Wind River Lady Cougars, also spent this weekend showing their first-year head coach, Sarah Remacle, what they were capable of after a long offseason. Before the Lady Cougars’ loss to Shoshoni, they also made easy work of Big Piney, winning 3-1 (15-25, 25-15, 25-18, 25-20) before the second day of play. On that second day they had a close matchup with Wyoming Indian, eventually winning 3-2 ( 25-27, 25-16, 19-25, 25-23, 15-4), but they really met their match against 4A’s Cody before heading back to Pavillion, losing 3-0 (25-13, 25-6, 25-16).
Wyoming Indian, while hosting the event, did not have as good of a weekend even with their hometown fans in the stands. Their 3-0 loss to Shoshoni was only compounded by a 3-0 loss against Big Piney (25-21, 25-18, 25-18). Then, to make things worse, their 3-2 loss to Wind River was just the first of two losses to finish the weekend, falling to Powell 3-0 (25-5, 25-6, 25-18).
Meanwhile, outside of Fremont County, the volleyball teams that did not participate in the Lander Invite made their way on the road to compete for the first weekend of the season.
Dubois’ Lady Rams traveled to the North Big Horn County Volleyball Tournament in Cowley and Lovell, facing off against mainly 1A and 2A. The Lady Rams, who are the only volleyball team in Fremont County to have a returning head coach, sadly lost their first matchup of the season against Meeteetse 2-0 (25-21, 25-16) and then losing their second with the same score against 2A’s Greybull (25-18, 25-23).
They didn’t do much better in their third bout of the day against Lovell from the 3A Class, falling 2-0 (25-17, 25-17). The next day’s opening match also saw a Dubois loss, but with a familiar foe in Burlington, losing 3-1 (20-25, 25-22, 25-13, 25-20). Eventually they pulled out a win, coming on the second day in the Silver Bracket at Cowley, beating Meeteetse in the third-place match 3-1 (25-20, 25-18, 24-26, 25-8).
Riverton also traveled outside the county instead of staying put and playing in Lander or Ethete, venturing out to the Cheyenne Invitational under new head coach Justin Taylor. They started off extremely strong, dominating Cheyenne Central 2-0 (25-22, 25-18), but they simmered in their second matchup when they lost 2-0 to Cheyenne East (25-20, 25-23).
On Saturday they opened up the tournament with two close sets that required extra serves, eventually losing 2-0 to Thunder Basin (27-25, 26-24) who looks to be one of the best teams in the state. The Lady Wolverines got back to winning a little later in the day, taking care of business against Cheyenne South and winning 2-0 (25-9, 25-17), but again simmered before heading home in the form of a 2-1 loss against Natrona County (14-25, 27-26, 25-23).
All-in-all, Fremont County was well-represented by their various volleyball teams and look to have strong seasons all around in every class. For a full schedule of each volleyball team be sure to grab a copy of the Fremont County Fall Sports Preview available at 421 E. Main Street in Riverton.
BY: Shawn O’Brate / all photos by Carl Cote