When talking to the returning six seniors who comprise the bulk of the Lady Braves volleyball team, last year’s finish is a common lament for all half-dozen of them.
“As a team we definitely want to win state this year, that’s our main goal” said senior outside hitter Shania Warren. “State last year has been a big focus. This year we want to play our best and to play as a team.”
“I’m excited to have played at state last year but we’re hoping to do better this year,” said senior setter Riley Haderlie. “Winning state is something we’ve talked about since we were little so we want to make that dream come true.”
For Jamie Hardy, the team’s senior at the libero position she feels the team will be able to improve their performance at the state tournament this season because of their chemistry. “We’ve had a good team the last three years but we haven’t been able to produce at state but I think we will this year with this senior group,” she said. “We’ve all be playing since we were at least sophomores and we’re best friends and that helps with communication out there on the floor.”
After winning the 3A West Regionals and running their winning streak to 13 matches, the momentum came to an abrupt halt as Star Valley ran into a tough Buffalo squad who dispatched them in a classic five-game clash in Casper. The hangover the next day resulted in a 0-3 sweep at the hands of the Powell Panthers, a team the Lady Braves had defeated handily twice during the regular season.
With the bitter end of 2015 fueling them, as well as a state runner-up basketball finish on the hardwood, the squad appears to be poised for a very good campaign, although head coach Chad Teichert says there were many young teams last year with returning talent. “There’s a lot of teams in our state and our conference that had a young roster like we did last year,” he said. “It should make for a good conference and a good state tournament. I should be fun.”
When asked if the weight of expectation was an issue to start the season, Teichert had this to say. “There are high expectations but I don’t feel that it should be looked at as a weight,” he stated. “I have high expectations, I think it should be something that we enjoy and embrace and rise to the occasion.”
The squad begins the school’s quest for their first 3A title since 2005 in Cokeville this weekend where they will face Rich County, Bear Lake and Lyman on Friday as they try and qualify for Saturday’s Gold Bracket. The Lady Braves will face Lyman a team that defeated the Lady Braves twice last season with the JV beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Court #2. Star Valley will play again at 1 p.m. against Rich County before wrapping up pool play with a 6 p.m. start against Bear Lake.
Star Valley fans will have to cash-in early with nearby matches as the Pinedale Wranglers will be in Afton on September 1 and the Idaho Falls Tigers will be on the home court on September 7. After that, the team hits the road for three away events before returning home against Lyman on September 16. It all leads up to the SVHS Invitational on September 17. Those scheduled to attend include Cokeville, Malad, Sugar-Salem, Evanston, Ridgeline, Lyman and Mountain View.