CLEARMONT — Arvada-Clearmont High School returns five starters to the volleyball team this year, setting up the Lady Panthers for success.
Returning for the team are starters McKenna Auzqui, Ashlynn Fennema, Krista Malli, Kerri Malli and Kailei Beam.
“This is definitely the most experience team that I have had in the five years that we have been here,” said ACHS head coach Sarah Walker.
To bolster the Lady Panthers ranks is a talented group of freshmen that look to challenge the upperclassmen, Walker said. Lady Panthers look to suit up 12 girls, the highest in at least six years, Walker said.
“The fact that we have 12 girls is a really big deal for us. The most I have had is nine up to this point,” Walker said. “We are in a situation where we finally feel like we can play JV games and where we can develop our younger girls early on in the season so that they can step in if we need them later on in the season.”
Walker is excited to experiment with different rotation options, allowing the Lady Panthers to have a stronger variety, keeping opponents off balance.
Walker is excited about the senior class this year, bringing a combination of skill and leadership.
“The senior class has four girls, which is the also largest senior class that I have had, three of which return from last year,” Walker said. Auzqui, Fennema and Beam have been with Walker and the ACHS volleyball program since freshman year. “Two were All-Conference players [Auzqui and Fennema] for us, then a transfer from Kaycee that joined us for basketball season, Madison Troll, who was an All-Conference player in volleyball at Kaycee last year. Really to have three solid seniors that were All-Conference players coming back is a big deal.”
Walker looks to have her seniors set the competitive edge for the Lady Panthers, pushing the team to improve each day and helping the young players prepare for action. Posting a 13-18-4 overall record and a 5-3 conference record a year ago, the Lady Panthers have their eyes set on the conference title game and finishing in the top three at the state tournament.
Walker knows the Lady Panthers are in a tough conference, facing Upton and Kaycee during the season. If the Lady Panthers can control the games against those teams, the team proves they can play with some of the best teams in the state.
8/31 Gillette tournament
9/13 Big Horn Invitational
9/14 Big Horn Invitational
9/28 Dubois, Ten Sleep
10/4 Bobcat Invitational, Thermopolis
10/5 Bobcat Invitational, Thermopolis
10/11 Jamboree, Dubois
10/12 Jamboree, Dubois
11/1 Regional tournament, Wheatland
11/2 Regional tournament, Wheatland
11/7 State tournament, Casper