Nov 18, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorShoshoni coach Christina Mills has made going to the Class 2-A state volleyball tournament a habit for the Wranglers.
Mills-coached teams have four straight state tournament appearances at the Casper Events Center.
Based on her performance this year, Mills was voted the Fremont County volleyball coach of the year as selected by the sports staff of the Ranger, Lander Journal and Wind River News.
SHS finished fourth at the 2013 state tournament.
"I'm truly honored to be recognized for this award," Mills said. "I have been blessed with some tremendous athletes who have bought into my program. This honor is an extension of all of them."
Shoshoni, Wind River and Riverton all represented Fremont County at the state tournament.
Riverton placed fourth in the Class 4-A state tournament.
RHS coach Adrian McNamee saw her team come on strong in the double-elimination tournament after the Wolverines lost a heartbreaker to Gillette in the opening round of the bracket.
"We have quality coaches in Fremont County," Mills said. "It's evident in the success of all the various programs."
Wind River volleyball coach Kristan Trujillo guided her team to the Class 2-A state tournament in her first season.
It was the first state tournament for Wind River since the 2009 season.
Wind River went 1-2 at the state tournament.
Shoshoni eliminated Wind River in five sets during a consolation match in Casper.
SHS was the No. 3 seed for state. Wind River was the No. 2.
"I gained valuable coaching information by attending games or watching other programs," Mills said.
After graduating a number of players from the 2012 state volleyball team, Mills had her work cut out at the start of the season.
Erika Eckley was the only senior for Mills this year on the roster, and she became one of the top outside hitters in the region.
"I definitely believe that my success is attributed to all the young ladies I have coached over the years," Mills said.
The juniors this year were Annika Dechert, Tasha Maddock, Raine Pingetzer and Zareesha Mills.
Dechert was a Class 2-A all-state setter.
"They work hard during and beyond the volleyball season," Mills said. "They set high expectations for themselves and the team."
The sophomores for the Wranglers were Audrya Tarango, Taylor Robinett, Shade LeClair and Raimee Dempster.
"They are about setting a tradition of being competitive and building a successful program," Mills said.
"Being at the state tournament is a tremendous experience," Mills said, "one that I want all of the girls I coach to have."
The Wranglers were in a tight match in the opening round when the Wright Panthers were the draw.
In the back-and-forth match, the Wranglers won a 25-21, 25-17, 18-25, 15-25, 15-9 decision to stay alive for a state title.
"The more times the girls experience state, the more likely they will be able to compete in that arena and be successful."
With a state championship match on the line in the Class 2-A state semifinals, Kemmerer swept Shoshoni 25-14, 25-13, 25-23.
Kemmerer would go on to outlast Big Horn in five sets in the 2-A title match.
Kemmerer, Wind River and Shoshoni all played in the same division this year.
"With Kemmerer winning state and Wind River nearly beating Big Horn, it was clear that our conference was very competitive," Mills said. "Having a tough conference truly helps prepare teams for the end of the season tournament."
With the majority of her talent coming back for next year, Mills knows the Wranglers will put in the extra time in the offseason to prepare for a big year in 2014. "They need to get a lot of touches on the ball during the offseason. The girls are in a great place, but they have a lot more to do." the coach said.
Get your copy of The Ranger online, every day! If you are a current print subscriber and want to also access dailyranger.com online (there is nothing more to purchase) including being able to download The Mining and Energy Edition, click here. Looking to start a new online subscription to dailyranger.com (even if it is for just one day)? Access our secure SSL encrypted server and start your subscription now by clicking here.