FORT WASHAKIE – So far this season there have been plenty of great stories around Fremont County in every fall sport, but one that continues to excite is the fact that Fort Washakie’s Lady Eagles’ volleyball team is in their first season as a varsity program. Although the newly-sanctioned team has barely gotten a good look at many varsity teams, mainly during last week’s Wind River / Wyoming Indian Invite, they were able to show off their skills at home for the first time against another team from Fremont County.
Wind River’s Lady Cougars sent their JV team to Fort Washakie after a mix-up with the scheduling, but they still arrived at “The Fort” hoping to gain some more experience for the younger girls in Pavillion as well as get more girls more touches on the court.
A minimal crowd was at the match early on but the bleachers at the Eagles’ facility started to see more friends, family and volleyball fans by the end of the third match. The first two sets were split between the two teams, each winning one before Wind River’s JV girls made a comeback after falling down 23-21 late in the third set.
Once the comeback was complete and the JV team from Pavillion took the set lead 2-1, that was when Fort Washakie’s energy got cranked up to eleven in front of their home crowd at The Fort. A few slip-ups here and there, especially those caused by not communicating, stalled the Lady Eagles but they would eventually get the set win and tie it all up at 2-2 before the third and final set.
“This team is still getting used to playing together and building a positive team culture,” Fort Washakie head coach Fredde Reed said after the match. “We have really tried to focus on communicating while on the court and making good passes.”
Those good passes and communication were on display in the final set, getting out to an early lead over Wind River and holding it with some big-time plays by a few girls who put their bodies on the line as they dove onto the hard wood for saves and passes.
In the end, the Lady Eagles secured the 3-2 victory over Wind River’s JV girls. This marked the first time as a varsity team that the Lady Eagles were able to win in front of their home crowd which was quite exciting for Coach Reed. After celebrating with her Lady Eagles’ team she said “the girls are still trying to adjust to playing at the varsity level with is faster and more intense” but that the girls did well against the JV team from Pavillion.
On the other side of the net, the Lady Cougars’ JV team was a little out of breath after expecting a three-set game and instead going a full, varsity-level five-set match. But, that didn’t stop them from giving their all on the court for the final two sets.
“I am very proud of them for building their stamina to play a best out of 5 match,” JV coach Nakita Griebel said after the final whistle. “This was not something the girls were expecting, but [they] played it to the best of their ability … The girls faced some mental challenges and were able to overcome their mental block [and] they encouraged each other and used positive energy to conclude the night.”
Even though Wind River’s new head coach Sarah Remacle wasn’t at the game with her JV players, she still had a lot of praise for the sophomores and freshmen that played their hearts out at The Fort.
“The JV team played an exceptional night of volleyball, going in thinking they were playing the best two out of three and ending up playing a full varsity game,” Coach Remacle said. “I am proud of how they adapted, handled the situation and showed up to play.”
Now that Fort Washakie has gotten the monkey off their back that was winning at home this season, the rest of the year can begin to hopefully fall into place with games coming up at Wyoming Indian and at home versus Burlington and Ten Sleep.
“We have already experienced positive moments in our first few games that are hopefully helping to build confidence and consistency for future games,” Coach Reed stated. “I am excited for all of the growth and experience that this season will bring.”
Up next, Fort Washakie plays at Dubois on Friday, September 8 at 4 p.m. while Wind River travels to Star Valley this weekend for the Star Valley invite.
BY: Shawn O’Brate