Alexis Stucky quickly proved she could just about do it all on the volleyball court.
The Laramie High sophomore had an introductory season at the prep level last year when triple doubles became a regular occurrence for the 6-foot-2 right-side hitter and setter.
Just a couple examples:
Stucky recorded 14 kills, 19 digs and 24 assists against Douglas in the last regular season match before postseason play. Douglas was one of the better teams in Class 3A and later placed third at the state tournament. In the match before that, she had 11 kills, 13 digs and 16 assists in the final 4A Southeast Quadrant match of the season against then three-time defending state champion Cheyenne East.
“It was so awesome,” Stucky said. “I loved playing with all the older girls and being in front of the home crowd was amazing. It was cool to play with people who wanted to win just as badly as I did and who would put in as many hours in the gym as I did.”
Stucky, who earned all-state and all-conference honors after her first season, was an added spark plug on an already veteran team with six standout seniors. The Lady Plainsmen won the East regional tournament for the top seed heading into the state tournament.
LHS then came within one match of claiming its second state title in program history and first since 1994 by cruising through the first two days with three-set sweeps of Evanston and Star Valley. But the Lady Plainsmen met Casper Kelly Walsh — the top 4A team and favorite all season — for a 3-1 loss in the final. Kelly Walsh finished 34-2 overall; Laramie was 24-11.
“It was so fun to play in front of such a big crowd with all the adrenaline, and to make it all the way to the (state) final was really cool,” Stucky said. “We really put all we could into it, but Kelly Walsh took the win.”
Stucky said her role is going to change a bit heading into this season as she is now the main setter to help direct the offense.
“I’m not going to hit as much and just going to set, which will be new for me,” Stucky said. “I love setting — it’s my favorite of all the skills because I like being able to run the offense. We are very young, but I think we have all the tools to be successful.”
With the loss of six seniors — including all-state and all-conference selections Ashlyn Titensor and Jennifer Aadland — the Lady Plainsmen nearly resemble a new deck of cards.
Just about everything starts anew.
In addition to Stucky, the Lady Plainsmen return seniors Morgan Brown at middle blocker and Jessica Crane at outside hitter, who had varsity experience.
Joining them will be junior defensive specialist McCall Moore; and five sophomores in outside hitter Morgann Jensen, middle blocker Anna Gatlin, libero Halley Feezer and right-side hitter Teagan Bluemel.
“They are very young,” fifth-year LHS coach Becky Baker said. “But to be honest, they are such a fun group and I’m excited to work with them. I expect to see a lot of growth and there will definitely be some growing pains, particularly at the beginning of the season. But if we stay focused on the goals we’ve set and take it one step at a time, this team has a lot of potential to do some great things.”
The Lady Plainsmen do boast large sophomore and freshmen classes that Baker will also have her eye on as the season progresses.
“I’ve already seen some kids at the junior varsity level who have the potential and can really help us out, too,” Baker said.
Baker said the team has spent the past couple weeks focused on two main aspects of the game that usually keeps a team in matches.
“Passing and defense is what we are living and dying on right now,” Baker said. “The girls have really embraced it and they understand that really needs to be our priority.”
The Lady Plainsmen begin the season Friday at the Cheyenne Invitational Volleyball Tournament. The opening two days will feature shortened preseason matches.
On Friday, LHS will play Rock Springs (12:30 p.m.) and Rawlins (2 p.m.) at East High and Kelly Walsh (5 p.m.) at Central High. On Saturday, LHS will play at South High (9 a.m.), at Central (Noon) and at East (4:30 p.m.).
“(Advancing to the state final last year) definitely lights a fire under them,” Baker said. “But I’m really happy to see with how they can stay focused in the moment. None of our girls are looking too long term, and we are focusing on what will happen this weekend.”