The 2018 high school volleyball season brings about a fresh start for Laramie High School, and despite its losses, the Lady Plainsmen look to be a top contender again.

Laramie finished 32-5 last year but took third place at the state tournament for a second straight year. That was just short of where LHS wanted to get to. The Lady Plainsmen had rolled through the regular season, won the 4A East conference with a 12-0 record, and won the East Regional tournament, but were upset in the semifinals by Cheyenne East.

Fourth-year head coach Becky Baker says it isn’t motivation, but rather a lesson for her squad.

“We have a very different group of kids this year. There’s really no point in trying to compare anything in the past to what these kids do now. I truly think they’re equally as great, just in a very different way, so I think the lesson is there that you gotta show up for every single, and if you don’t, then that’s what happens, no matter how good you are.”

The Lady Plainsmen return two starters, seniors Ashlyn Titensor and Jennifer Aadland (All-Conference in 2017), and five total letter winners from last season. Gone were five seniors that Coach Baker had built with over her first three years. Baker believes they’re not rebuilding, just reloading.

“We’ve got some good young talent that I think is gonna come fill those holes. I think our older girls that are returning from last year are stronger than I have ever seen them. It’s gonna be a different style. I think it’s gonna look different than it maybe has looked in the past, but I would not be shocked if we got very high results.”

Baker called this group “passionate” and believes they have a very high ceiling, but they just won’t start at such a high level. Instead, she feels they’ll build as the season progresses.

Seniors Ashlyn Titensor and Jacqueline Murdock joined KOWB’s David Settle for a season preview. They talked about the “new” team, their outlook, and discussed some likes off the court.

Baker feels Kelly Walsh, Thunder Basin, Cheyenne Central, and Riverton will be teams to watch, though she said there could be a surprise or two.

She says it’s going to be a process to get where they want to be.

“I don’t think we’ll be there right from the start, and I hope no one compares to last year when we kind of started at that high point, but that was three years of building. This is a brand new team, brand new year, and so it’s going to take a little bit of time, but I think they see the potential they have, and it’s part of the reason they are so motivated. I think they know.”

The Lady Plainsmen open with matches against Natrona, Rawlins, Rock Springs, Kelly Walsh, and Cheyenne South at the Cheyenne Invitational Volleyball Tournament Friday and Saturday.

Their first home match will be against Rawlins Sept. 4. They will also play at tournaments in Gillette and Casper. With the new 4A alignment for volleyball, LHS plays the three Cheyenne schools twice in conference action. They will cross-over to face the northeast quadrant. They play at Natrona and Sheridan but get Campbell County and Thunder Basin at home. The regional tournament will be at Thunder Basin Oct. 26 and 27. The Wyoming State Volleyball Championships are Nov. 1-3.

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