Wright sweeps regional tourney, secure No. 1 seed at state

Mike Moore photo
Jozi Edwards (left) and Kindall Seamands erupt with joy after a point during Wright’s semifinal win over Southeast last weekend at the 2A East Regional. The Lady Panthers secured the No. 1 seed at this weekend’s state tournament in Casper. 

By: 
Eddie Poe eddie@hpsentinel.com

Kindall Seamands and the Wright Lady Panthers knew exactly what they were up against when they stepped on the court Saturday afternoon in Glenrock. A sense of familiarity guided them in the right direction.
So when the game-winning point landed on Pine Bluff’s side of the court, a three-game sweep of one of the top teams in the state didn’t phase them.
Seamands and the Lady Panthers knocked off the Lady Hornets to claim the 2A East regional crown for the third time in four years. With the win, they also secured a No. 1 seed at this weekend’s state tournament at the Casper Events Center.
“Pine Bluffs always shows up and always put up a big block,” Seamands said after beating the Lady Hornets 25-21, 25-11, 25-20. “They’re a really good team so we knew we had to show up.”
Wright has now won 15-straight matches after knocking off Lusk (25-13, 25-8, 25-10) and Southeast (25-9, 25-14, 25-17) before finishing off Pine Bluffs in the title game. Their last loss was to, ironically, the Lady Hornets on Sept. 8 at the Big Horn Invitational.
The Lady Panthers have been so dominant during the second half of the season for a number of reasons. Seamands, though, contends the answer is simple – chemistry.
“We understand each other,” she said. “This is a group I’ve been with since junior high. We just know where we are on the court and how to play with one another.”
Brandi Fuller, one of Wright six seniors that includes Seamands, expressed earlier in the season that this year’s team is stronger than ever. Whether it’s been on or off the court, the Lady Panthers have found a way to use last year’s mistakes as a way to improve this season.
She referred to the team as “family” and sensed even then that people were taking notice.
“Throughout this season, we have analyzed our strengths and weaknesses as a team and as individuals, and we’ve found a way to work together to improve them,” Fuller said. “Our drive and passion for the game has allowed us to face anything and everything.”
Head coach Sarah Seamands saw that same chemistry and drive on display during the opening set against Pine Bluffs.
After falling behind 3-9 to start the match, she called a timeout.
“I just told them to ‘keep on keeping on’ because this is a long game,” Seamands said. “When you’re down 5-2 or 7-2, you just have to stay the course and continue to play volleyball. It’ll turn, volleyball is a game of momentum shifts, and so you just have to wait for your turn and when it comes, you take advantage of those opportunities.”
As big as the regional win was, Seamands pointed to a few mistakes that were made that will help her team stay honest and humble as they prepare for the state tournament.
“There’s still some things that we need to work on that were exposed a little against Pine Bluffs,” she said. “They have some great hitters, they’re tall and they’ve got great blockers. They’re a great team, and I expect to see them at the state tournament.
“We’re continuing to step toward where we want to be and hopefully we’ll peak when we get there.”
Wright will play the Kemmerer Lady Rangers (9-14) in the opening round Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The two teams have not faced each other this season.
But despite that unfamiliarity, the Lady Panthers are ready to take their 15-straight wins to Casper.
“We always joke in practice since we’re seniors, ‘This is the last time, this is the last regional week,’” Seamands said.
For Seamands and her fellow seniors, it’s one last shot at state.

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