Not surprisingly, a team from the Northeast Conference will be playing for the Wyoming State High School Class 2A Volleyball Championship. Make that two teams.
Sundance swept Greybull on Friday to advance to the title game where the Bulldogs will face three-time defending state champ Wright, a 3-0 winner over Big Piney.
Since 2006, teams from the Northeast have won eight state championships and finished second six times. The conference has had at least one semifinalist each of the past 15 years.
Overall, teams from the Northeast have won 16 state championships — 17 if you include newcomer Upton’s 1975 state title. Wright leads the way with five, followed by Big Horn and Tongue River with four and Sundance with three. Moorcroft is the only conference team without one.
“The Northeast Conference is tough,” Sundance head coach Greta Crawford said. “You have to be ready to play every night you step on the floor. There’s no doubt playing those games gets us ready for the postseason.”
The results have been apparent for the Bulldogs this season.
Sundance (27-4) not only was undefeated against 2A competition this season, but beat three-time defending Class 4A state champion Cheyenne East in a tournament back in September.
“I’ve got to thank Wright and Big Horn and all those teams in our conference for making us better,” Sundance senior Teila McInerney said. “We know that we can’t have a bad night against those teams or we’ll lose.”
Wright first-year head coach Sarah Seamands knows the Panthers wouldn’t be in the position they’re in without playing in the Northeast.
“It just makes you that much better,” she said. “Rather than blowing teams out, we’re forced to battle every night in conference and that’s what you want, you want to play close games.”
Welcome to big stage
While Wright, Big Horn and Sundance know their way around at the Casper Events Center, the same can’t be said for Lusk, Big Piney and Greybull.
Lusk was making its first appearance at state since 2005. Even though the Tigers were swept by both Big Piney and Wind River this weekend, they don’t have to look far for inspiration.
Greybull advanced to the semifinals for the first time since winning it all in 1998 while Big Piney made it through to the semis for the first time in decades. Last year, the Punchers ended a 15-year drought by qualifying for state.