Aug 15, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterWith last year's fourth-place Class 4-A state finish a memory, 40 Riverton High School Lady Wolverines took to the practice court in Wolverine Gym beginning Monday and have started three-a-day practices this week as they prepare for their upcoming volleyball season.
Last season's 4-A West conference co-coach of the year Adrian McNamee is beginning her fifth season at the helm of Riverton's team and will try to guide RHS in what many consider the toughest conference in Wyoming high school volleyball.
Last year, the Lady Wolverines had league success, beating every conference team at least once.
"It is something that you want to piggyback off of with how we finished last year. But then again, you have different personnel. You've had a whole year and a complete summer with some kids getting in the weight room and some kids not," McNamee said.
Riverton will start its season next Friday, Aug. 24, when they host the annual McDonald's volleyball tournament in Wolverine Gym. The tournament field may be slightly weaker this year as Class 3-A contender Powell has chosen to not compete in the annual early season tourney. Only Class 4-A schools Sheridan and Rock Springs will join Riverton in the tournament that includes several Class 2-A and 3-A teams. Cheyenne also hosts a tournament on the same dates that attracts many Wyoming Class 4-A schools as well as good competition from Colorado, according to McNamee. Riverton will open the tournament with a pool match against Thermopolis.
Although the Wolverine staff hopes for a good showing at their home opening tournament, the coaches realize they may need to show some early season patience.
"You're always going to start out a little slower than we would like. But, hopefully we can get up to speed pretty quick with this group of kids," McNamee said.
Through the summer, McNamee was upbeat about her team's participation during open gyms, with an average of 20 spikers playing in the twice weekly sessions. "We went to a Cherry Creek (Colo.) team camp with our varsity and some junior varsity and we ended up 11th at that camp. It was a good camp. We played a good variety of teams," McNamee said.
Riverton will begin the season with seniors Kristen Bailey, Miranda Hosking, Ashley Lynott, Bree Olson, Baylee Stafford, Kylee Trees and Amy Woodward.
Tracy Larson, last year's junior varsity coach, has joined the Sheridan High School volleyball staff and is replaced by Justin Tayler, who coached the RHS freshmen last year. Trista Bauer, Jorah Griffith and Amy Redfern will handle RHS sub-varsity volleyball coaching.
McNamee has told her players that the first week of three-a-day practices is never fun.
"I think, as a whole, we have really worked hard. We have not had to get on them. Our goal for this week is getting them back in the gym, getting them in cardio shape, and getting a ball back in their hands," McNamee said.
McNamee said the format of the McDonald's tournament will change slightly. Junior varsity teams will play immediately before varsity teams during pool play.
The Lady Wolverines may begin their season in a 6-2 set but have yet to settle for certain on formations and player personnel at the varsity and junior varsity level.
"Were still looking at girls floating on the bubble. Kids are competing, even kids that we have had in the program for four years are competing for playing time. We are trying to get the best fit for the program," McNamee said.
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