CASPER — Laramie put the cherry on top of an undefeated season.
The top-ranked Lady Plainsmen finished the season 25-0 after winning the Wyoming Class 4A state tournament, defeating three-time reigning champion Kelly Walsh on Saturday evening in the championship match 22-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-23.
It is Laramie’s second title in school history, with the first coming in 1994.
“We’ve worked so hard and it’s amazing to see the outcome,” Laramie junior Alexis Stucky said. “(The hard work) was all worth it … it’s been so long that some of the girls on our team had moms on the team that won (in 1994).”
Kelly Walsh kept the score tight but trailed for a majority of the opening set, before taking a 19-18 lead after an unforced error from Laramie. The teams traded points before the Lady Trojans scored four of the final five points in the set to take an early 1-0 lead in the match.
The Lady Plainsmen rebounded after losing the set like they have all season.
“Every time we dropped a set (Saturday), we came back in full force” Laramie coach Jill Stucky said. “And how we responded when we lost a set is what I’m most proud of.”
Alexis Stucky and junior Anna Gatlin went on a hitting frenzy to start the second set, combining for 11 of the team’s first 12 points before Kelly Walsh grabbed a 13-12 lead courtesy of a Peyton Carruth kill. It was the final lead the Lady Trojans had for the set.
Laramie closed out the second set by going on a late four-point run before junior Morgann Jensen tied the match at 1-1 with a swing and a kill.
The third set is when the Lady Plainsmen established their dominance that’s been present all season long.
Again, Gatlin and Stucky paced the team early, propelling the state champs to a 10-3 early lead which included a six-point run that led to a 6-0 advantage. The Lady Trojans cut the deficit to four at one point, but that was the closest the score had been for the remainder of the set.
The fourth and final set was a back-and-forth affair until the very end. Laramie was forced to call a timeout after Kelly Walsh went on a late four-point rally to pull within two points, trailing 23-21. However, that momentum was brushed away and the Lady Plainsmen were victorious.
“I’m just glad to win this for the team, the community and our school,” Gatlin said. “We worked so hard throughout the season and I’m just proud of the way we were able to pull it out in the end.”
The Lady Plainsmen topped Star Valley in the quarterfinals in a four-set match and Thunder Basin in the semifinals, which was also a four-set match, only losing three sets during the three matches on the day.
Alexis Stucky paced the Lady Plainsmen with 76 kills for the three matches, including 28 in the championship. She also added 77 digs. Maddy Stucky chipped in with 30 kills and 120 assists throughout the day. Gatlin notched 28 kills, including 12 against Kelly Walsh.
A season that was in jeopardy four months ago turned into one of the best high school volleyball seasons in Wyoming’s history. In Jill Stucky’s first year back at the helm of the program, she knew her team just needed to block out the noise and get better.
It proved successful.
“We entered the season trying to do our best to control the things we can control,” said Jill Stucky, who previously coached at LHS from 2013-2014. “We didn’t have control over this whole pandemic, but what we did have control over was our attitude and our effort, and our ability to keep at it … in the weight room, in the gym and trying to keep our grades up.”
“… We just fought hard to control the things we can control, hoping and praying that we could play every day.”