When Lexi Allen kills ‘em, they stay dead.
The powerful hitter, a returning 1A all-state player, is one of the major reasons Meeteetse volleyball players believe they can make up for past disappointments with an appearance in the state championships this season.
“Go to state,” Allen promptly replied when asked about the No. 1 goal for a deep team that returns four starters and three Northwest All-Conference players.
The Lady Longhorns finished 24-9-2 last year, but were crushed when they were easily eliminated in two straight matches in regional play.
“This team is one of the most talented teams I’ve ever played on,” senior Amanda Cooley said. “We can go to regionals and do better.”
She said she was in the weight room five days a week at 5:30 a.m. over the summer, getting stronger for this year.
Junior twin sisters Abby and Sammy May also were all-stars last season.
Players worked out together a lot in the off-season and participated in two camps, one locally and one at Black Hills State in South Dakota.
“It helps a lot,” Abby May said. “It gives us an idea how we can play together.”
At a tiny school, there are 18 girls out for the team, giving coach Kelsey Scolari more depth than she has ever had. Sophomores are vying for open positions and pressuring upperclassmen for playing time.
“It’s a good team,” Scolari said. “They’re easy to coach. “We have two open spots. People are competing to fill those spots.”
Sophomores Mia May, Kennedi Johnson and Delanie Salzman are in that seize-the-opportunity mode, as are others.
Looking around and seeing so many faces in the gym is surprising, Abby May said.
“It’s kind of weird having such a big number,” she said, “since we’ve never had it before.”
Having such depth will be helpful when the Longhorns compete in tournaments demanding more than one match a day with quick-turnaround times.
Meeteetse opens the season Aug. 30-31 in the Big Horn Basin Tournament, so that scenario plays out immediately.
“When we go to tournaments, we’ll have plenty of players,” said Sammy May about starters getting enough rest. “I think we have a lot of talented players.”
Meeteetse’s first home matches are Sept. 5 against Rocky Mountain and Sept. 6 versus Burlington.
Remembering being eliminated quickly in regionals last year is a haunting feeling and the Longhorns hope to make up for the defeats.
They wouldn’t mind being like the Virginia men’s basketball team that became the first No. 1 seed ever to lose in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2018 and then rebounded to win the title this year.
State “is the goal for all of us,” Sammy May said. “We have the potential.”
Allen said the regional losses can fuel Meeteetse.
“We learned from what loses us points,” she said. “We are determined.”
All preseason conversation comes back around to reaching the state tournament and alleviating the hangover pain from last year.
“We just have to remember what it felt like,” senior Bryce Salzman said. “It’s definitely a doable thing. Learn from your mistakes.”