RANDOLPH, Utah — The Kemmerer High School volleyball team opened the 2022 season last week, falling in straight sets to Rich High School Thursday, then posting a 2-3 record at the Riverton Invitational Friday and Saturday.
“I thought we did really well in Riverton,” said KHS head coach Jennifer Nielson. “The morning we left, I had a player that was hurt, so I had to move a younger player up from JV. But overall, we did really well.”
The Lady Rangers (2-4) opened the Riverton Invitational Friday against Wind River, winning easily in straight sets, 21-16 and 21-12. That was followed by a 2-0 loss to Shoshoni (21-14, 21-11).
“We did lose to Shoshoni,” Nielsen said. “I wasn’t really happy with that — neither was my assistant coach. The girls were just really, really flat, sitting too long between games.”
Kemmerer bounced back in their final match of the day, beating 2A Southwest Quadrant rival Wyoming Indian in straight sets, 21-7, 21-9.
“We came back and beat Wyoming Indian pretty handily, which was good to see,” Nielson said.
Saturday saw the Lady Rangers square off against a pair of 4A teams in Sheridan and host Riverton. Kemmerer gave the Lady Broncs all they could handle in a three-set loss, dropping set one 21-12, but bouncing back to win set two 21-15. Sheridan won the tie-breaker 15-6 to win the match.
“We split sets with Sheridan, so we had to go to three sets,” Nielson explained. “I was really pleased with that. It was good to see the girls be able to compete with a 4A team, and they competed well.”
The Lady Rangers closed out the tournament against host Riverton, losing 2-0 (21-13, 21-15).
“We battled against Riverton — we were in the game with them,” Nielson said. “Playing these bigger schools, it just makes us better. One of the things I’ve tried to remind my girls, is that — even though we’ve dropped back down to 2A — we still have to have the same intensity that we had in 3A. So far, it’s looking good — we’re pretty scrappy, and we’re doing some good things.”
The Lady Rangers’ success at the Riverton Invite was a team effort, with everyone on the floor contributing, according to Nielson.
“Janae Skidmore stood out for me — she’s my middle hitter,” Nielson said. “She can read the court, she did a great job there. My outside hitter — Laynee Walker — did a great job, she hustles so much, then gets back to where she needs to be after chasing a ball. Gracee Painter did a great job on right side, she’s looking better this year. We did some really good things, but we have some work to do before our next tournament.”
The Lady Rangers will be on the road again this week at the Greybull Invitational Friday and Saturday.
“Greybull will be a great tournament,” Nielson said. “We get to see the other side of the state for 2A — the teams that will be at regionals with us, so that will be good. We’ve got to get quicker — we’re a little slow in the back row. We have to move our feet. We have to close our blocks, we’re letting too many through. And we have to hit every time — we have to have a good first pass to our setter, and we have to really focus on those skills to keep up the momentum we have going right now.”