Defending Class 4A champion Kelly Walsh made a demanding statement in the first weekend of East Conference games. Any team that aspires to win the 2018 state tournament has to go through the Trojans to do so.
The Trojans dispatched of Green River in a clean sweep (25-6, 25-17, 25-11) that lasted 45 minutes on Saturday at Kelly Walsh High School. It was the fifth straight victory for the defending champions, all of them sweeps.
"It feels good to have such good players and know that we can do that well," Kelly Walsh junior Isabel Lyons said.
Lyons, along with fellow juniors Corin Carruth and Danilynn Schell, led an absolute onslaught through the first set. The Trojans overwhelmed Green River with kills and consistently dug any attempts to rebut. The Wolves couldn't find a rhythm while the powerful Trojan offense pummeled the court.
Green River found new life in the second set on the play of senior Katie Banks. The 6-foot middle blocker put the Wolves ahead halfway to 25 before a Schell kill and Carruth block forced a Wolves timeout. Carruth later put a powerful kill down to cap a modest 4-0 run that put the Trojans ahead in a tight set. They pulled away from there to win 25-17.
Down 8-1 early in the third set, Banks tried to revitalize the Wolves. A high ball from a Saaj Hull dig went over the net, teed up perfectly for a Banks kill. That ball went directly to Carruth for the dig, which ricocheted over the net. The Wolves received that ball and committed a double-hit. That was the kind of dominance the Trojans displayed.
"We just kind of lost our focus," Lyons said of the second-set turnaround. "So (head coach Jeff Barkell) called a timeout and told us we needed to refocus and get up our energy."
A 16-7 lead then snowballed into the clinching 25-11 score. Green River didn't have an answer to the Trojans' depth or experience. Carruth led the Trojans with eight kills while Banks tallied four for the Wolves.
The win capped a perfect conference-opening weekend for the Trojans. They now stand 13-2 overall in addition to the 2-0 West Conference record from sweeping both Evanston and Green River this weekend.
Up next for the Trojans is a road trip to new conference foe Cody, who just lost its first game of the season on Friday in a sweep to Star Valley. Cody answered with a sweep of Jackson on Saturday. It's a two-week wait until the Casper Invitational, where the Trojans get to see even more teams from across the state, but it's an encouraging sign going forward.
The goal now is to continually lay the groundwork for the rest of the season.
"We just try to practice hard and go at each other hard in practice," Lyons said. "We do it so we can make each other better."