Volleyball goes to state

Senior Kayli Sharps ascends for a return volley as teammates Ajahonna Archuleta and Kaylie Critchfield react. Red Devil volleyball hopes to bring it all together at the 2018 4A state tournament in Casper this Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 1-3. (HERALD PHOTO/Mark Madia)

EVANSTON — By the time this issue of the Herald reaches you, the outcome of Red Devil volleyball’s opening round matchup against the Lady Plainsmen of Laramie at the 4A state tournament will already be known. Evanston will either have advanced to the championship portion of the bracket, with a state title still within their grasp, or they will have been relegated to the consolation part of the bracket, with a third-place finish being the best they can hope for. As with most culminating events in Wyoming tournament action, a great deal of emphasis is placed on the initial pairings.

Red Devil volleyball will take its 17-17 record into the state tournament as the fourth seed from the 4A West, to face the top-seed from the 4A East, in Laramie, on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 6 p.m.

The Lady Plainsmen boast an unblemished conference-quadrant record of 6-0 in 4A Southeast Conference and have the second best record overall of teams from the eastern side of the state at 22-10. Thunder Basin shows the way at 25-9 on the year.

If overall records tell the story of superiority, the West is the tougher conference. Kelly Walsh has been top-ranked virtually all season long and the Lady Trojans own a Class 4A-best mark of 31-2. Cody finished the season at 25-4 and Star Valley topped the 4A Southwest quadrant at 26-6. Evanston has competed well against both Cody and Star Valley but were swept rather handily in their only meeting against Kelly Walsh. Evanston does have the luxury of being on the other side of the bracket from the Lady Trojans, should both teams advance to the title match.

Head coach Tera Lawlar told the Herald her team certainly respects but is not intimidated by Laramie. They realize they will have to enter the best of five sets, first-round matchup, prepared and on top of their game to advance to face the victor between Star Valley and Natrona County at 7:30 p.m. Cheyenne East will square off against Kelly Walsh to open the 4A tourney at 3 p.m. with the winner to face the Cody vs. Thunder Basin victor at 4:30 p.m.

Evanston may be banking on having faced stiffer competition from teams in the west through the regular season to pay dividends at state. If they can outlast Laramie, Red Devil volleyball has proven they can compete with the Star Valley Lady Braves. The last time the two teams met, the Braves were fortunate to escape with a 3-2 set victory. And anything can happen in state tournament competition. 

Mountain View and Lyman will compete for a 3A title in Casper this weekend, as well. The Lady Eagles are a perfect 33-0 entering the state tournament. Look for state tournament results in the Herald next week.

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