The Meeteetse volleyball team won its home tournament earlier this season. Pictured are (from left) coach Kelsey Scolari, Abby May, Sammy May, Lexi Allen, Miya May, Amanda Cooley, Bryce Salzman, Kennedi Johnson, Kiana Horsen and Delanie Salzman. (Courtesy photo)

It didn’t come easy, but the Meeteetse volleyball team squeezed into the state championships this week in Casper with its performance at the 1A West Regional.

“We’re in,” senior Amanda Cooley said. “It was incredible.”

This will be the Lady Longhorns’ first appearance at state since 2008.

“I was 6 years old,” Cooley said.

Qualifying was a season-long goal for Meeteetse (24-5-2). The Longhorns, a fourth seed, will open first-round action today against Upton at 3 p.m.

“What a great opportunity these girls have,” coach Kelsey Scolari said. “We are right where we need to be. We just need to go all out this weekend and play some high intensity volleyball.

“The girls have the talent. We just need to maintain our focus and confidence through the weekend.”

The Longhorns set themselves up for advancement by winning their first-round regional game over Encampment 25-11, 25-19, 25-15.

“It was a good start,” junior Abby May said. “We got all our nerves out.”

Saratoga was next. One of the few Longhorn losses this season was to the Lady Panthers in a close match.

The rematch was a tug of war with Saratoga prevailing again 14-25, 25-17, 18-25, 25-18, 15-11.

“It was a pretty good game, back and forth,” May said. “It was kind of frustrating we didn’t win.”

That sent Meeteetse into the consolation bracket and a 25-19, 21-25, 25-20, 25-20 victory over Burlington followed. It was that match which sent the Longhorns to state.

Little Snake River won the third-place match 27-25, 19-25, 28-26, 12-25, 15-13, but taking fourth was all Meeteetse needed.

And the players knew they were in before meeting Little Snake River.

“We didn’t have anything to lose,” said Sammy May, Abby’s sister. “We’re so excited for state.”

Scolari said the Saratoga and Little Snake River matches were so close, the Longhorns could have won both.

If Meeteetse wins its first match at state, the next opponent may well be Saratoga for a third time this year.

“It’s our time to win against Saratoga,” Sammy May said.

Regardless of outcome, the Longhorns will bask in the experience of making it to the state tournament.

“We worked so hard and so long to get this far,” Cooley said.

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