CHEYENNE – Elysiana Fonseca announced herself as a potential varsity star for the Cheyenne East volleyball team during her freshman season.
However, her time with the Thunderbirds varsity started earlier than that.
Fonseca played with the Thunderbird Volleyball Club’s top team as an eighth-grader. That experience gave her a taste of what it was going to take to succeed at the varsity level. It also helped her establish a little bit of chemistry with her future teammates.
It only took a few high school matches for Fonseca to feel like she belonged. Her play matched that belief.
Fonseca has only elevated her play during her sophomore campaign.
The 6-footer posted 35 kills and 11 blocks to help East grab wins over Cheyenne Central, Sheridan and Kelly Walsh last week. Those efforts also earned Fonseca Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports’ Cheyenne staff.
“She has only gotten better and better from Day 1,” East coach Nicole Quigley said. “She is so raw as an athlete, but she continues to grow, not just athletically, but mentally.
“Some days, she really struggles with being too hard on herself when she makes errors. The biggest thing she needs to do is realize it’s a process and things will eventually come, if you trust it.”
Fonseca has started to realize that everyone makes mistakes, and the trick is to grow from each one, Quigley added.
Fonseca’s 66 kills are fourth-most on the T-Birds’ roster this season. Her 42 blocks are nearly 30 more than the second-best total on the team.
She credits her experiences as an eighth-grader and a freshman with helping her excel this fall, especially as a hitter.
“I pushed myself to get better every day, and I stayed after practice a lot,” Fonseca said. “In the beginning, I wasn’t as good as I thought I should be. I compared myself to other players on the team a lot. I didn’t think I hit the ball as hard as they did, and the balls I hit weren’t going straight down to the floor.
“I wanted to get to that level, so I worked hard to get better. Now, I’m doing pretty good.”
Fonseca has stopped passing up opportunities to hit the ball, and is now calling for it forcefully.
“I used to not want the ball because I was scared I was going to mess up,” Fonseca said. “I would call for the ball really quietly so the setter gave it to someone else. Now, I’m comfortable yelling for the ball and asking them to set me the ball. I started lifting this year, so I’m a lot stronger and more confident.”
While Fonseca has improved as a hitter, she is an imposing force at the net.
“She covers a lot of ground, and her wingspan is pretty big,” Quigley said. “She is also fast, quick and can jump out of this gym. With those abilities, she puts up a really good wall.
“A lot of times, she puts the hitter out of position or makes them swing around her because she gets herself into such good positions and puts up a really big block.”
Fonseca is happy with her blocks numbers, but feels she could get even better.
“I need to be much better at closing the block so I’m not reaching for as many balls,” she said. “I need to get right next to my teammate so there isn’t a gap for the other team to hit through. I am waiting too long to get over there.
“If you don’t really set your block, it makes it harder for the girls in the back row to play defense. I know I can be even better as a blocker if I just get more reps in.”
Others recognized for their efforts include:
n Keagan Bartlett and Cade Pugh, football, East: Bartlett came off the bench to rush for 97 yards and two touchdowns on six carries during East’s 55-8 win over Cheyenne South. He also passed for another touchdown.
Pugh, a junior, gained 106 yards and scored two touchdowns on 13 carries.
n Ellie Brewer, Dillen Phillips and Allie Robért, girls swimming, Cheyenne South: Brewer won the 200- and 500-freestyles during the Lady Bison’s dual loss to Cheyenne East.
Phillips took top honors in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
Robért won the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle.
Kylie Gallegos, Jaden Gipfert and Rylee Ward, volleyball, Burns: Gallegos posted 31 digs to help the Lady Broncs split matches with Lander and Lingle-Fort Laramie on Saturday.
Gipfert notched 22 kills across those matches. She also had 19 digs against Lander.
Ward posted 50 assists in those contests. She also tallied 15 digs in the loss to Lander.
n Andrew Johnson and Carter Lobatos, football, Cheyenne Central: Johnson, a senior, caught seven passes for 114 yards during the Indians’ 19-6 win at Campbell County. He also snared an interception.
Lobatos, also a senior, rushed for 98 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. He also had one catch for seven yards.
n Brinkley Lewis and Sydni Sawyer, girls swimming, Central: Lewis won the 1-meter diving competition during the Lady Indians’ dual with Green River on Friday, and their quadrangular with East and Rock Springs on Saturday.
Sawyer won the 200-yard individual medley and 100 butterfly against Green River. She won the 200 free against East and Rock Springs. Sawyer had the fastest time in the 100 breaststroke, but Central had such a commanding lead by that time in the meet that Sawyer’s swim was an exhibition.
n Ashley Marshall, volleyball, East: The senior dished out 77 assists and 38 digs to help the Lady Thunderbirds go 3-0 on the week.
n Andrea Reifschneider and Jaden Shelit, volleyball, Pine Bluffs: Reifschneider dished out 26 assists during the Hornets’ sweep of Lusk.
Shelit posted 14 kills and seven digs during that match.