Up in the rafters of Wrangler Gym in Shoshoni, a volleyball bounded around among the steelwork above before drifting back to Earth.
House rules stipulate any such ball remains in play, which gives the home side a decided advantage with the low ceiling that can alter the arc and trajectory of shots.
But, on this day, the Lady Cougars of Wind River simply adjusted on the fly and got on with the business of winning in a comprehensive 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-20) victory Saturday.
Jaylynn Fightingbear led the line for Wind River with 12 kills, while Savanna Arneach added 11, Kodi Anesi nine and Alison Johnson eight.
According to head coach Jamie Lockhart, it was a complete team effort.
"Our Shoshoni match was fantastic.We came out ready to play, and we did just that," said Lockhart."I was impressed with every single one of my players and was pleased with how we took control."
Wind River adjusted well to the absence of Gaby Wall from the Cougar front line. She was replaced capably by Johnson, said Lockhart.
"Gaby Wall was out during this game, and I couldn't have asked for a better player to step up and do such great things," she said. "Alison Johnson really impressed me with the fact she played back row and front row, with very few errors altogether."
Of course, the front liners can only pound home balls provided them by the back row, which did an outstanding, said Lockhart.
"Our front row was great, but our back row was just as good picking up a lot of balls we usually don't get to," she said."During this game, we only missed three serves and truly played as a team."
On Friday, the Lady Cougars visited Ethete to face the Lady Chiefs of Wyoming Indian and came away with a hard-fought 3-2 (23-25, 25-14, 17-25, 25-13, 15-13) victory.
Fightingbear once again led Wind River with six kills, while Anesi added five.
Despite the conference victory, Lockhart was left concerned with her club's lack of fire.
"The most important part is we finished with a win," she said."We had a lot of great things that happened for us, like only four missed serves.But, we made a lot of our own mistakes and have a hard time keeping up the intensity when playing a team like Wyoming Indian."
Wind River (8-11, 1-1 Class 2-A Southwest) will hit the road to face conference opponents Kemmerer and Big Piney on Saturday.
As far as Lady Blue was concerned, Shoshoni head coach Christina Mills simply gave credit where it was due. The match providing a wake-up call for her club moving forward.
"Wind River came out really strong, and we did couldn't put a string of points together to get a run in any game," said Mills."While we did a good job of attacking, Wind River dug really well.We also had too many unforced errors, with missed serves and not being consistent with our serve-receive. This was a good match for us to refocus the next few weeks so we can compete well in conference.Sometimes you need games like this to put things back into perspective prior to the regional tournament."
On Friday, Shoshoni defeated Rocky Mountain, 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-20), improving its conference record at the Lady Grizzlies' expense.
Mills was duly pleased with the effort her squad showed away from home.
"Friday was a good conference win for us on the road," she said."The team played consistent and attacked the ball well."
Shoshoni (7-12, 3-1 Class 2-A Northwest) will next host Riverside on Friday, then travel to Greybull on Saturday.
The Lady Rams of Dubois had a busy weekend, playing at the Farson-Eden Invitational, where they advanced to gold-bracket play Saturday after defeating Hanna-Elk Mountain, 2-0 (25-10, 25-17), Ten Sleep, 2-0 (25-22, 25-22) and Farson-Eden, 2-0 (25-18, 25-15) on Friday.
It was a last chance for most of the state's Class 1-A schools to gather and measure their respective skills against one another heading into regionals and the state tournament.The tournament provided her club with an opportunity to prepare itself for what lies ahead, said head coach Tina Baker, particularly the match against the Lady Pioneers.
"We didn't play with as much intensity, but we played well enough to come away with the win," she said. "Ten Sleep is young and scrappy -- we'll have to bring our "A" game when we meet them again in two weeks to finish off our conference season on the road. It was an awesome to watch our girls come together and play really great volleyball."
Friday's three victories gave the Lady Rams first place in their pool, after which they moved on to play Hulett in their first match on Saturday, coming away with a 2-0 (25-13, 25-24) victory.
Next was a match against conference foe Burlington, and the Rams fell to the Lady Huskies, 2-0 (25-20, 25-17).
Baker attributed her side's struggles to a familiarity between the clubs.
"I'm not sure why, but when we play those conference teams, the atmosphere changes and we just didn't play with the confidence and enthusiasm as we had in the prior four matches," she said. "We have to learn to just go out and play our game no matter who is on the other side of the net."
So, Dubois was relegated to the third-place match against Little Snake River and was defeated by the Lady Rattlers, 2-0 (25-19, 25-11).
The Lady Rams played a tight opening set, only to unravel in the second stanza, said Baker.
"We played right with them and lost the first set, but then lost confidence again," she said. "We played well and blocked them tough on the net, and our offense was working fine."
Although serving was an issue, the blocking at the net was excellent, said Baker.
"It was the only match in weeks we didn't serve well -- only 75 percent The tournament average was well into the 90s. When you play that caliber of team, you can't afford to give away points on the serve," she said. "However, I was very pleased with how well we played the net. Calyn O'Neal and Rheannon Hawk blocked their best hitters several times and we dug well when they didn't get a touch on the block."
O'Neal led the Lady Rams with 48 kills for the weekend, while Aubry Baker added 20.
Riley Rux dished 66 assists, and Baker supplied 51 digs for the tourney.
All in all, it was a great chance for her squad to measure themselves against the competition they'll face in the postseason, said Baker.
"It was a great opportunity to see where we stand in the Class 1-A ranks," she said. "Top-ranked Cokeville and Lingle weren't there, but we feel good about where we are and how we're playing. "
Dubois (6-10, 4-2 Class 1-A Northwest) will next host St. Stephen's on Saturday.
Following the Lady Chiefs' 3-2 (25-21, 25-12, 17-25, 25-27, 15-8) home win against Dubois on Thursday, Wyoming Indian hosted Wind River on Friday and lost 3-2 (23-25, 25-14, 17-25, 25-10, 15-13).
Wyoming Indian (5-6, 0-3 Class 2-A Southwest) will face Hanna-Elk Mountain at home on Friday, followed by a pair of road matches on Saturday against Big Piney and Kemmerer.
The Lady Eagles also played at the Farson-Eden Invitational and came away with two losses in three matches during silver-bracket play on Saturday, with their lone victory against Evanston's junior varsity by a score of 2-1 (25-22, 17-25, 15-14), followed by losses to Meeteestse, 2-1 (24-25, 25-20, 15-11) and Ten Sleep in the third-place match, 2-1 (25-19, 20-25, 15-7).
St. Stephen's (8-13, 1-4 Class 1-A Northwest) will be at Burlington on Friday and Dubois on Saturday for a pair of road conference matches.