Lady Cougars back from the brinkOct 8, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
On Saturday afternoon at Wrangler Gym in Shoshoni, the Lady Cougars of Wind River put one on the home side, beating Lady Blue in straight sets, their third consecutive victory.
However, the defeat of their Fremont County rivals was simply the latest masterclass in what has been a revival of a season under first-year coach Jamie Lockhart.
The Lady Cougars began the current campaign 0-7 and it looked for all the world as if it was going to be a long season at the Purple Palace in Pavillion.
But, then a funny thing happened.
The Lady Cougars began winning.
On Sept. 1, they won a a pair of matches against Riverside and Kemmerer and haven't looked back since, going 7-4 over their past 11 matches, rounding into form just in time for their Class 2-A Northwest schedule.
On Friday, they defeated league foe Wyoming Indian, 3-2 (23-25, 25-14, 17-25, 25-10, 15-13), coming back from a 2-1 deficit in sets, then defeating the Lady Chiefs in the fifth-set tiebreaker.
So, whatever Lockhart is doing is working, big time.
Samantha Arneach is a force in the middle, along with outside hitters Jaylynn Fightingbear, Kodi Anesi and Gaby Wall raining kills on opposing defenses, as they did on Saturday in the victory over Shoshoni.
Not to mention, all this after losing one of their best players from last season in Vonnie Capitan, who transferred to Wyoming Indian.
Purple Power has been very impressive in bringing their season back from the brink and should be a threat at the regional tournament leading up to state.
Speaking of volleyball, we had the privilege of taking in the match between Wyoming Indian and Dubois on Thursday evening in Ethete and were treated to a five-set thriller, in which the Lady Chiefs jumped out and claimed the opening two sets, only for the visitors from the high country to storm back with wins in the third and fourth stanzas, which forced the fifth-set tiebreaker, which the home team eventually won.
It was the first time we've seen both teams in person this season and both sides showed plenty of fight, with bodies hitting the floor recklessly in pursuit of loose balls.
It's always fun when two Fremont County clubs clash and this occasion produced a donnybrook as the teams traded blows until victory was decided.
Most volleyball matches in which one team wins the first two sets are decided in three, as it's tough psychologically to come back with so little room for error, so hats off to both sides for battling right to the end.
A pair of volleyballers sandwiched around one rugged runner makes this week's list.
Wind River, volleyball
On Saturday during the Lady Cougars' road victory against Lady Blue, the towering sophomore middle blocker stuffed three successive Shoshoni shots in little more time than the blink of an eye.
It was certainly a case of being in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing -- three times.
Lander's stocky fullback rumbled for 77 yards on 17 carries during the Tigers' home game against Buffalo, receiving the bulk of the carries after running back DeAundre Velarde was injured.
Included in his performance was an impressive 23-yard, off-tackle run and a pair of occasions where he was flipped head-over-heels by Bison tacklers, landing on his feet on one of them.
Hey, what do you expect from a lad who's a wrestler and a pole vaulter when he's not playing football?
Motherway is certainly accustomed to rough-and-tumble treatment, as well as flying through the air.
Barkhurst, a 5-foot-7 outside hitter for the Lady Rustlers, had a coming-out party against Casper College on Thursday, collecting a squad-leading 11 kills after having only 17 combined for the entire season up to that point.
Now, that's what we call improvement.
Very cool, indeed.