Led by two returning all-state players, the Laramie Lady Plainsmen volleyball team will look to build upon an up-and-down 2019 season.

Laramie had a coaching change in the off-season, as Becky Baker left after five seasons and returned to her alma mater at the University of Wyoming as an assistant coach.

Jill Stucky, who was previously the head coach for two seasons and an assistant in the program last year, is now the new head coach. Taking over in the middle of the COVID pandemic wasn’t as challenging as it might sound. Stucky explained it helped get players going.

“Fortunately for us, we had a lot of interest in kids getting off the couch and getting into some type of activity this summer.”

She said they were well-attended and wonderful sight. All of it helped them in preparing for the season. Stucky said it helped them with their ball control.

“Many of our drills were catered around how do we develop the topspin over the net? How do we serve to the zones we want to? How do we dig balls to target? We spent a lot of time working on just being able to hit the ball (to) deep zone 1, deep zone 5 (as examples). It was great. We had a great summer.”

Two of the leaders on the 2020 team will be juniors Alexis Stucky and Halley Feezer. Both received all-state accolades last year. Stucky was the 4A East Player of the Year, while Feezer won 4A East Defensive Player of the Year honors.

KOWB’s David Settle spoke to the pair about the upcoming season, playing with each other, what they’ve been working on in practice, adjusting to a new coach, and preparing for competition around the state.

Head coach Jill Stucky said their preseason practice has been getting the team into shape.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to keep ‘em strong, keep ‘em healthy, and keep ‘em from starting the season to ending the season and staying healthy all the way through.”

The Lady Plainsmen lost only two players from last season’s 19-17 squad. They finished second at the regional tournament and went 1-2 at the state tournament.

Stucky feels with the team they have they’ve got to be scrappy.

“They’re going to keep the ball off the floor, and they’re gonna fight. We’re going to be the dog that has the biggest fight this year. I’m excited about that. We’re going to have to outlast our opponents. We’re not overwhelmingly huge by any means but we are really athletic.”

Stucky’s daughter Alexis committed to Florida earlier this summer. The junior will be the focal point of opponents and Stucky understands it means she has to play smarter, not harder.

I tell her, “You don’t always have to pound the ball, but you have to put it somewhere where the other team isn’t. Our strategies this year are we have to be the smartest team that steps onto the floor.”

Stucky knows Class 4A had some key losses from a year ago, but she mentioned seeing more kids from around the state trying to improve themselves in the off-season.

“I think 4A’s going to be pretty good this year.”

Laramie wants to be a team that is in the hunt. The Lady Plainsmen have a streak of five consecutive state tournament appearances and will look to add to that and possibly bring home some hardware in 2020.

LHS will be in Casper to play Kelly Walsh and Natrona County for their first two matches of 2020 on Saturday, Aug. 29.

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