CASPER – Evanston High School volleyball coach Tera Lawlar wishes her team had another two weeks to play.
She felt like the Lady Red Devils were just starting to hit their stride.
Evanston had its season come to a close Friday afternoon after falling to Natrona 25-22, 25-18, 22-25, 25-19 in a consolation game at the Class 4A state tournament at the Casper Events Center.
“They’re a great group of girls,” Lawlar said. “Obviously, losing and knocking yourself out of the tournament hurts. But I told the girls, when you’re enjoying what you’re doing and you’re peaking and you’re playing well – that’s why it hurts so bad.”
The Lady Red Devils, ranked No. 4 in the West, came up short against Laramie, ranked No. 1 in the East, in the opening round on Thursday.
Evanston suffered a 25-23, 26-24, 25-20 loss to Laramie. The Lady Red Devils held leads at various points in each set.
“We definitely had our ups and downs,” Evanston senior Hailey Barker said. “These past two weeks – regionals and state – we put it all together and played our guts out. That’s all you can ask for.”
On Friday, Evanston jumped out to a 5-1 lead, but Natrona worked its way back and won the match in four sets.
“Going home after playing just two games kind of stinks,” Evanston junior Aspen Anderson said. “But we’ve definitely improved.”
Lawler saw the Lady Red Devils start to turn the corner during regional play last week at Natrona.
Evanston beat Rock Springs in the first round, but lost to Natrona in the second round. With their season on the line, the Lady Red Devils handed Rock Springs its second loss of the day as Evanston earned its way into the state tournament.
Evanston had already played 12 matches the previous day when the Lady Red Devils went up against Kelly Walsh in the second round of regionals. The Lady Trojans defeated Evanston 25-21, 25-19, 25-9, but the fight the Lady Red Devils displayed is what impressed Lawler the most.
“They showed more than volleyball savvy, intelligence and strategy,” Lawlar said. “They showed heart and grit. That’s been something that has been hard to coach. How do you coach that grit, and that fight and that little bulldog inside each and every one of them? We saw it and I’m very proud.”
Evanston graduates Barker, Allysa Dean, Hannah Ellingford, Emmery Wagstaff, Tayler Groll, Angelita Magna, Tierra Short and Nicole Bott.
Barker is confident in the group that is up and coming
“This team is made up of seniors and juniors,” Barker said. “These juniors have really stepped up and I’m really proud of them.”
Kayli Sharp, Kaylie Critchfield, Ajahonna Archuleta and Anderson return next year as seniors.
Anderson believes the Lady Red Devils will continue to improve.
“We have that chemistry together,” she said. “Hopefully, next year we can start from where we left off.”
See Tuesday’s paper for additional volleyball coverage.