Aug 23, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterThe Riverton Wolverines volleyball team, with a grueling week of three-a-day practices in a warm gym behind them, will open their season on their home court Friday as they host the two-day McDonald's of Riverton Invitational Tournament.
Fourteen teams, including the Wolverines, will begin pool play at 10 a.m. Friday in Wolverine Gym.
"I think they are getting excited more than nervous," McNamee said. "I think they are ready to play. We've spent a long time in the gym, and I think they are ready to go."
Last year, Wright, a small Class 2-A school, easily defeated Rock Springs, a Class 4-A team, to win the early season tournament. Wright later cruised to a state title, as did Cody in Class 3-A, and both teams will be at the McDonald's tournament Friday and Saturday in Wolverine Gym.
As for the Wolverines, McNamee senses that this year's team will play a quick, finesse style of play and will need to beat teams by simply being quicker.
"Last year we had Hannah Svilar in the middle who was a big gun and a big block with a lot of power," McNamee said. "Same thing with Hannah Soll. This team has the power but a lot more finesse, thinking and placement. This team will be quicker than last year's team."
Riverton, who defeated Cody but was put out of last year's tournament by Sheridan in bracket play, will begin pool play against Thermopolis. Also in Riverton's pool are teams from Pinedale, Sheridan, Tongue River, Pinedale and Wright.
In the other pool, teams from Cody, Wind River, Rock Springs, Lander, Lyman, Lander and Big Horn will compete for seeding in Saturday's bracket play.
This year's McDonald's tournament does not include teams from Powell or Worland, perennial Class 3-A contenders.
"I think the McDonald's used to be the premier Class 4-A tournament," McNamee said. "I don't know why that changed. You are not going to have a Cheyenne or Laramie if Cheyenne is hosting their own tournament. We do help out the local teams, and I think it is good that we do that.
"At the same time, we need to get some more 4-A teams in here and some more competition in here. In that opening tournament, you want a field to play tougher teams, but you also want to have a couple of games you can win."
Riverton will work most on playing consistently throughout their tournament in a 6-2 set with seniors Kristen Bailey and Miranda Hosking handling the setting. Riverton's power should come from sophomore middle hitter Kiley Ridgway and outside hitters senior Ashley Lynott and junior Hailey Snell with others competing for playing time in the varsity mix.
"We have a lot of seniors on a senior loaded team," McNamee said. "It's tough to make sure that the girls know their roles."
The Wolverines will choose team captains at Thursday's practice.
"We have to view (the tournament) as a learning process and trying to get the kinks out," McNamee said.
"We think we have adjusted what needs to be adjusted. But once you play, we will see what else we need to work on."
According to the RHS activities office, there is an admission fee of $4 each day for adults and $2 each day for students with a WHSAA card.
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