Following a special season a year ago, the Laramie Lady Plainsmen volleyball team begins its journey to try to repeat as state champions.

The 2020 season was magical. Laramie went undefeated on its way to the second state title in school history. They lost only six sets over 24 matches.

Fast forward to now, and make no mistake about it, Laramie is the clear favorite in Class 4A.

Head coach Jill Stucky knows it.

“With our group, that’s very experienced this year, they are going to get down to business this year. We definitely have a target on our back. Everybody’s going to try to give Laramie their best match, and I feel like our team’s going to be ready for it. We’re a team that’s ready to compete, ready to play at a really high level, and ready to win.”

The Lady Plainsmen return all their starters and ten varsity players from last year.

Leading the charge will be the reigning Gatorade Wyoming Volleyball and Class 4A Player of the Year, senior Alexis Stucky. She earned her third all-state honor in three seasons last fall.

Also back are all-state players Anna Gatlin and Maddy Stucky, and all-conference players Halley Feezer and Morgann Jensen.

Stucky says one benefit coming into the season is her team is willing to train hard.

“We have a nice group that comes in on a daily basis and likes to get to work. I don’t think I have to motivate them, in regards to, wanting to compete every day in practice… As far as this team wanting to play and play at a really high level, I don’t have to motivate them in drills. They do it.”

Two of the senior leaders are Gatlin and Feezer. KOWB’s David Settle recently talked with the two about preseason training, the focus and motivation for this team, how they’re dealing with the favorite role, and some fun items.

The focus from Coach Stucky early has been ball control, and then also problem solving so opponents don’t have a path to beat them.

Stucky also isn’t shy about how good her team is.

“We have some nice firepower. We have a number of girls on the team that can take really, healthy swings. We’re learning how to place those balls in strategic places that will help us win. We have some brawn coming together with some brain, and it’s a really pretty thing. We also have some nice size. We’re a really big team.”

Eight of the varsity players are 5’10 or taller.

Laramie begins its title defense at the Cheyenne Volleyball Invitational on Friday and Saturday. They will play five matches over two days, including a title game rematch versus Kelly Walsh on Friday. Other opponents include Rock Springs, Natrona County, Thunder Basin, and 3A Rawlins.

There are two other tournaments on their schedule in 2021. The Gillette Invite and the Casper Invite.

Besides its home quadrant matches, Laramie will also play Kelly Walsh and Sheridan at home, with non-conference road matches against Rawlins and Wheatland.

The 4A East Regional volleyball tournament will be in Gillette at Campbell County High School on Oct. 29 and 30.

The 4A State Championships are in Casper at the Ford Wyoming Center on Nov. 4-6.

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