It hasn’t always been this way for the NCHS volleyball program. There was a stretch of 19 years when the Lady Tigers were regulars at state. While stats and results of the early years (1973-86) are hard to come by, it took a while for volleyball to catch on in Niobrara County. The 1987 team qualified for state with a strong young nucleus, and the following year NCHS brought home their first top three. These teams began a run that went until midway into the first decade of the 2000’s before falling into obscurity after their last appearance in 2005-a fourth place finish.
The Lady Tigers are 1-4 in title games with a 2A State Championship in 2002 and runner up finishes in ’93, ’95, ’97 and ’04. Lusk also has third place trophies from ’88, ’94, ’96 and ’03 on display.
The streak-busting memories will remain, yet the reality of playing at the Casper Events Center will be upon NCHS Thursday evening as the #1 team from the West is Big Piney. While the East is much deeper in quality teams, the Lady Punchers will present problems. They have been ranked in the Wyopreps top 5 most of the season and finished fourth last year at state. “I think we can go in there knowing we are just as capable as anyone else,” said senior Reygan Molzahn. Other first round matchups before the Lady Tigers take the court at 6 p.m. include Lovell vs Sundance, Big Horn vs Greybull and Wind River vs Wright.
It will be the first state volleyball tournament I have attended since my sister was a sophomore at NCHS in 1989. The tournament was in Riverton, where I was attending Central Wyoming College. This was a time when Lusk had just begun an era of greatness for the Lady Tigers.
Notable events that happened in 2005:
* Hales and McDaniel started kindergarten at LEMS, while the other five were in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Montana, Minnesota and Nebraska.
* The Houston Astros made their first World Series appearance-and are in the 2017 fall classic
* Top movies included: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Madagascar, Saw II, Star Wars Episode III and Wedding Crashers
* Hurricane Katrina hits Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama leaving 1,600 people dead
* YouTube was founded
* George W. Bush was early in his second term as US President
When I asked the seniors about 2005, Ceaglske mentioned nap time, while McDaniel wished there still was one. All seven remember the movie Madagascar but not much else, other than Hales mentioning Homecoming events. Their focus is clearly on the present and not a past they weren’t aware of.