Every game counts now for the Lady Miners volleyball team in their first season in a new conference. Starting this year, the HEM volleyball team and the the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams join Chugwater, Glendo, Guernsey-Sunrise, Lingle-Ft. Laramie, and Rock River in the 1A Southeast Conference. In the Southeast conference, standings for volleyball (and basketball) are determined on a point system, three points for a win against a 2A, 3A, or 4A varsity team, one point for a beating a 4A sophomore or 3A JV team, 0.5 points for a 2A JV or 3A sophomore team, and 0.5 points for a 3A or 4A freshman team. There are four 1A divisions and twenty 1A volleyball teams in the state. The top three teams in the conference automatically go to regionals, but the fourth and fifth place teams play a pigtail game to compete at regionals. Eight teams (four from each regional tournament) qualify for state.
HEM athletic director, Russ Wiggam said, “A lot of the change was done in reaction to the loss of revenue over the past three years that have affected our school district. It will save us money by not having to travel as far as in the past, and we won’t have to spend as much on meals or motels.”
“We are excited for the change in conferences,” Lady Miners volleyball head coach Jackie Jones added, “We know we still have a tough task ahead of us with the quality teams in our conference and especially in the east regionals. Having former conference foes on our schedule will also keep us in touch with what the west teams are looking like as well. Change is good, and early practices have been great.”
Head HEM football coach, Zack Scott, commented, “I am excited for the change in conference for volleyball, basketball, wrestling and track. The trips are for the most part much shorter since HEM is located in the southeast corner of the state. As for football, we were already in the eastern conference so the change for other sports kind of brings the thing full circle.”
The schedules for volleyball and basketball set by school athletic directors, but the football schedule is set by the state (WHSAA). The Miners football team has already been playing in the East conference, so there is no change from last year for football. Football has no point system; rankings are based on the win/loss record in conference play. There are thirteen six-man teams in the state, and eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
The Lady Miners volleyball team’s first games are on Friday, August 29th, starting at 1:00 p.m. in Saratoga at a triangular tournament with Encampment and Saratoga. The Miners football team will scrimmage against Farson and Dubois on Saturday, August 30th, in Lander. The first game is against Snake River in Baggs on Friday, September 5th at 3:00 p.m.