They’ve been the team to beat in Class 4A all season long. Now, the Laramie Lady Plainsmen volleyball tries to repeat as 4A champs at the state tournament in Casper.

Laramie (29-2) opens the state championships with a first-round match versus Cody on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, at 3 p.m. at the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper.

The Lady Plainsmen have had a target on their back since they went undefeated and won the 2020 Class 4A Championship. The team has handled it well, and despite a couple of setbacks against Kelly Walsh, they’ve continued to push forward.

LHS won the 4A East Regional Championship last weekend in Gillette. Laramie swept Cheyenne Central and No. 3 Cheyenne East last Friday. They defeated Kelly Walsh in four sets last Saturday for the regional crown. In the title match, the Lady Plainsmen lost the first set and won the next three. Alexis Stucky had 30 kills in the victory.

Head coach Jill Stucky says in order for us to have a chance to repeat we have to be motivated and driven.

“I think we have to manage our hunger. We still have to be hungry the whole weekend, and we can’t be satisfied with just average. We have to be satisfied with our best effort, and we have to give it every single match that we have out. I’m not the kind of coach that loves the kids all the time. I try to push them all the time. I’m not okay with the status quo. I’m not okay with the way we were last year. I’m not okay with the way we were last weekend. I’m okay with how we progress into this weekend, and how we can get better.”

For coach Stucky, it’s about teaching the girls to be hungry, to be humble, and thankful for their opportunities.

Seniors Alexis Stucky and Anna Gatlin played key roles in Laramie’s title run a year ago. KOWB’s David Settle caught up with the duo before practice this week to talk about the regional title, preparing for state, what it will take to win it all again, and more in the video at the top of this story.

The Cody Fillies are a team that Laramie hasn’t seen this season. They have an overall record of 24-7, and coach Stucky calls them a solid team.

“All six of their members are very functional players, and then they’ve got a couple of players that come in off the bench that are really good, too. I just think they are low-error, and we just can’t rely on them to give us points. We’re going to have to earn our points against them.”

To prepare for this weekend, Stucky said the focus in practice was on blocking footwork, being disciplined on defense, and passing.

She believes it’s more about what her team does than their opponents.

“We have to take care of our side of the net. I think when we’re firing on all cylinders, then, people have to stop us, and that’s the direction I’m going. I, obviously, need to know about our opponents because they’ll have some tendencies we’ve got to worry about.”

LHS made a run last year in one day. This time around, the state tournament format is back to one match per day over three days if you’re lucky enough to keep winning and advance in the bracket. So what will it take to bring home another title?

Stucky says, “Number one, we’re going to have to be very physical. We’re going to have to get out and take some very aggressive swings, but in order to do that, we’re going to have to be in-system. So, I’ve spent a ton of time with the blockers, obviously, but then on our second court (at practice), our passers have been passing, just thousands of balls this week. I feel like our touch on the ball’s going to be a big deal, and then our ability to run our offense.”

Stucky likes her team’s chances, but she knows that teams like Kelly Walsh, Thunder Basin, Natrona County, Star Valley, and others are just as capable of winning it all as her team.

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