For the third consecutive year, the Laramie Lady Plainsmen volleyball team opens play at the state tournament against Evanston.

It’s the third of the four first-round matches Thursday at the Casper Events Center. The match begins at 6 p.m.

Laramie head coach Becky Baker said of seeing the Red Devils again, I think it’s kind of funny.

“That we somehow always get matched against them, but it doesn’t really bother me one way or the other. The only thing that does kill me is that they’re on such an opposite side of the state that we don’t see them at anything until there (at the state tournament). You (try to) trust film, trust people who help you out and are like, hey, we’ve seen this, this, and this, but other than that we really just gotta keep the focus on our side.”

This will mark the fourth straight state tournament that Laramie has played Evanston at some point in the eight-team, double elimination bracket.

The Lady Plainsmen are coming off their second consecutive 4A East Regional Volleyball Championship last week in Gillette. Laramie (22-10) is led by senior outside hitter Jennifer Aadland and freshman middle blocker Alexis Stucky. Both were instrumental in their surge at the regional tournament last weekend.

Seniors Hailey Judd and Aadland joined KOWB’s David Settle for a look back at the season to this point, facing Evanston again, and some of their keys to be successful this weekend in Casper.

Coach Baker emphasized that the focus has been on keeping the ball and control on our side.

“Not letting other teams in because we aren’t taking care of business on our side. Really just focusing on a clean, aggressive-type play.”

Baker notes that the key pieces are serving, passing, and defense. She believes it can make a break a game.

She also feels this team has what it takes to reach their end goal this weekend.

“This group of kids has really put themselves in the best possible position they can to make that happen, but we really are just trying to keep it at a one-day-at-a-time mentality. I think part of what’s hurt us in the past is looking a little too far forward. It’s really got to be taking care of business for what’s next.”

The Laramie-Evanston match winner will face the winner of Star Valley and Natrona County. The other side of the bracket features defending 4A state champion Kelly Walsh against Cheyenne East and Cody taking on Thunder Basin Thursday.

Friday has consolation action and the semifinals. Saturday will feature consolation semifinals and the third-place match. The Class 4A State Championship match will be at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Laramie is seeking the school’s second-ever state volleyball title and first since 1994.