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Wranglers reach VB semifinals; Cougars lose cliffhanger
Nov 1, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor
CASPER -- Pivotal points in crunch time went the way for the Shoshoni Wranglers in a five-set victory over the Wright Panthers Thursday night in the opening round of the Class 2-A state volleyball tournament.
The Wranglers moved to the semifinal round with a 25-21, 25-17, 18-25, 15-25, 15-9, win at the Casper Events Center.
Wind River almost matched the feat, putting a scare into Big Horn by winning the first two sets 25-19, 25-19, but
Big Horn stormed back to win three straight sets 25-13, 25-14, 15-8, for the victory.
Shoshoni entered the double-elimination tournament as the No. 3 seed from the West. Wind River is the No. 4 seed.
"We played really well in the first two games," SHS coach Christina Mills said. "In the second two, we played a tipping game, which got us in trouble."
Wright was the No. 2 seed from the East. Big Horn won the Class 2-A East conference tournament.
"Wright is a tough team," Mills said. "They did some nice things. They are going through a little bit of adversity with one of their players getting hurt during the regional tournament. We just kept going and going. That is what put us over."
Shoshoni 3, Wright 2
The Wranglers came into the state tournament with one senior and the rest of the players underclassmen.
Sophomore Shayde LeClair is an outside hitter for the Wranglers.
LeClair is one of the top options in Shoshoni's attack.
"I wasn't really nervous because I know that I have a team that has my back," LeClair said. "We have all been places together. It wasn't really that scary. We all picked up the confidence up."
Everything worked for SHS in the first two sets, but the tables turned in the third and fourth set for Wright.
Before the fifth set started, Mills made a change and went with a different defense against Wright.
"I played a rover defense," Mills said. "That is where you bring your middle all the way to the front. We just made a few changes. It seemed to work out for us."
In the fifth set, Wright was up 3-1 before SHS came back to deadlock it at 4-4.
"The fifth set was tense, but if you make it too tense, then you don't do well," LeClair said. "We were pretty good at trying to keep it calm."
The two squads were tied at 6-6 and 8-8 in the back and forth match.
SHS took the lead at 9-7. The Wranglers went on a 4-0 run for a 13-7 advantage, and the deal was sealed after that.
"Any time you are at the state tournament, it's a tense game," Mills said. "The hardest part is that we are so young. It gets really tense because you don't know if they are going to handle the atmosphere."
Big Horn 3, Wind River 2
The balls were dropping for Wind River in a rapid pace against the powerful Big Horn team in the first two sets.
The Cougars were on the verge of pulling off the biggest upset in the first day, only to see Big Horn steal away the momentum in the third and fourth set.
"We just couldn't get into our groove in the first two games," Big Horn coach Leigh McLaughlin said. "We started clicking a little bit in the second game. We just kept the momentum on our side in the third game. We just rolled with that momentum."
In the fifth set, Big Horn raced out to a 6-0 lead.
"We just took one point at a time in the fifth set," McLaughlin said. "We just wanted to be consistent all the way across the board. These girls just stepped up and got the job done."
Big Horn was up 7-2 and 10-4 in the pressure-packed set.
Wind River kept fighting to 13-7 before Big Horn put the match away.
"Wind River stepped on the court ready to go," McLaughlin said. "They were pushing points on us right away."
The victory by the Wranglers put them into the semifinal round against Kemmerer on Friday night. SHS lost to Kemmerer twice during conference play.
"Kemmerer is a hard hitting team," Mills said. "They are very tall. They tower us by a lot."
Kemmerer swept Tongue River 25-21, 25-17, 25-13, on Thursday in the final match of the day.
Wind River played Southeast Friday afternoon in a consolation match. The best Wind River can now finish is third.
The third-place match is at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
The title match is for 4 p.m.
Class 2-A state volleyball tournament held in Casper
(No. 1 seed/East) Big Horn 3 (No. 4 seed/West) Wind River 2 (19-25, 19-25, 25-13, 25-14, 15-8)
(No. 2 seed/West) Lovell 3 (No. 3 seed/East) Southeast 0 (26-24, 25-17, 25-14)
(No. 3 seed/West) Shoshoni 3 (No. 2 seed/East) Wright 2 (25-21, 25-17, 18-25, 15-25, 15-9)
(No. 1 seed/West) Kemmerer 3 (No. 4 seed/East) Tongue River 0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-23)
Wind River vs. Southeast
Wright vs. Tongue River
Big Horn vs. Lovell - 4:30 p.m.
Shoshoni vs. Kemmerer - 6 p.m.
Wright/Tongue River winner vs. Big Horn/Lovell loser
Wind River/Southeast winner vs. Shoshoni/Kemmerer loser - 10:30 a.m.
9 a.m. winner vs. 10:30 a.m. winner - 2 p.m.
Big Horn/Lovell winner vs. Shoshoni/Kemmerer winner