While the trip to the 4A State Volleyball Tournament may not have been as long as the Cody players had hoped, the Fillies were still thrilled to have the opportunity in the wake of a pair of close losses at state.
“Playing at state was such a cool experience to see all the good teams and the cool atmosphere as well,” sophomore Molly Hays said. “I thought we had a really good season, we improved so much and it was so fun to be a part of.”
The Cody volleyball team was eliminated from the state tournament Saturday in Casper after a 3-0 loss to Star Valley that included two close sets.
It was the first time the Fillies (19-8) had played in the state tourney since 2018.
“It’s always hard to lose out in the tournament, but I’m so proud of them and thrilled with how the season went,” coach Nicole Gwynn said. “Last year the team was just over .500 on the season, but this year we improved that record drastically.
“It was amazing to see the kids rise up and improve each day.”
The two losses at state were both, despite 3-0 finishes, close-fought affairs with two of three sets in each match close until the end.
“We proved we can compete with any team at state,” Kennedi Niemann said. “Every girl made huge improvements.”
Cody lost the first against the Lady Braves 25-23. The Fillies last led 19-18 on a tip from Molly Hays and were tied 20-20 before Star Valley took the lead for good.
In the second set, the Lady Braves raced away with the game early to secure the 25-14 win.
In the final set, Cody kept it close, leading 10-7 early on an ace by Lake Harrison. After a Star Valley rally, Reece Niemann evened it up at 16 on a kill. Cody last tied it at 18, then Star Valley pulled away for the 25-22 win.
“Versus Star Valley we got off to a slow start, but eventually were able to settle in and play really good volleyball,” Victory Buck said. “Just weren’t able to pull it off.”
The Cody volleyball team put up a fight against No. 1 East team Laramie, but fell 3-0 in the opening round. Laramie went on to win the tournament.
Cody lost the first set 25-11. In the second set, the Fillies led 23-20 late but couldn’t close it out. Autumn Wilson tallied a kill to take a 24-23 lead to halt the first Laramie rally. The Lady Plainsmen tied it at 24 on a kill and then scored two more for the 26-24 win.
The third set again went to the wire before Laramie won 29-27. Neither team was able to pull away and the score was tied at 11 and again at 19. Cody led 22-20 but Laramie tied it. Then Harrison tipped it over to put the Fillies ahead 23-20. The Lady Plainsmen tied it again, then Cody blocked a Laramie hit to make it 24-23. Laramie returned the favor with a block to tie it again, then went up 25-24 on a kill. After a missed shot by Laramie, Cody pulled even once again. Autumn Wilson tipped the ball to tie it at 26 and Ava Meier followed with an ace to put Cody ahead 27-26. Then Laramie rallied to score the final three points, winning on a block that at first didn’t lead to a call from the judges. After a discussion, Laramie received the point, the set and the win.
“It was a battle today,” Reece Niemann said after the loss. “I think as a team for the most part, we served tough and on defense we got a lot of good touches on their big outside hitter and we watched the tips better as the game went on.”
For Reece Niemann and many of the other players, they will get at least one more shot at a state tourney. For seniors Wilson, Harrison and Izzy Radakovich, state was a good way to cap a high school volleyball career.
“It was such a memorable experience to end my volleyball season,” Harrison said. “The girls and my coach contributed so much to that.”
It was memorable for the first-year coach as well to lead a group of players with no state volleyball experience against the state’s best.
“The state tournament was a new experience for every single one of these girls and they handled it well, as well as learned a lot for the future,” Gwynn said. “We are better prepared for next year. Not a week went by this season that I didn’t feel blessed to work with these girls in this program.”