Setting an example

Reagan Davis captures All-State volleyball

By Robert Galbreath,
Posted 11/7/23

“Like a quarterback, the setter runs the offense,” Davis explained. “I touch the ball nearly every point. I have to read the blockers on the other team and where they’re playing defense to determine where to set the ball so a teammate can successfully get a kill.”

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Setting an example

Reagan Davis captures All-State volleyball


PINEDALE – As the setter for the Pinedale High School Lady Wrangler volleyball team, senior Reagan Davis spent nearly every minute of every game out on the court.

“We run a 5-1 (rotation), and there’s not another setter that goes in for the varsity match,” Davis said. “So I never really get a break.”

Davis’ primary role involved running the Lady Wrangler offense – directing the ball to the right teammates at the right time to score points.

“Like a quarterback, the setter runs the offense,” Davis explained. “I touch the ball nearly every point. I have to read the blockers on the other team and where they’re playing defense to determine where to set the ball so a teammate can successfully get a kill.”

Davis’ seniority and central position on the court made her an ideal candidate for the Lady Wranglers’ permanent team captain for the 2023 season.

“As a setter on the court, I’m always there, so we just decided that I would do it,” Davis noted.

Stepping into the leadership position, Davis served as the calm voice to interact with game officials and mentored younger players on the team. Her preferred leadership style was to set an example through actions.

“Coaches can only do so much,” Davis said. “They can tell you to be positive all they want, but it doesn’t really matter unless you show it and you are consistent with it. Success is definitely all in the athlete’s head.”

Establishing the right head space was critical for Davis to find the motivation to put in long hours of practice during the fall and winter seasons.

“It doesn’t matter what your skills are, what your past is, what position you play and how old you are,” Davis said. “If you have the mindset that your team is going to win this game, and that we’re going to do it together, and refuse to lose, that can be really helpful.”

Davis’ exceptional work ethic, leadership and talent caught the attention of coaches from across the region and state. The Wyoming Coaches Association awarded Davis with both 3A All-State and All-Conference accolades for the 2023 season.

Davis achieved another momentous milestone early this fall when she posted her 1,500th high-school career assist in September.

“It feels rewarding,” Davis said of her All-State accomplishment. “I love volleyball, and I’m happy to get this award.”

And tallying a mind-boggling 1,500 assists?

“I always saw other players celebrating reaching 1,000 assists, and I never really tracked mine,” Davis said. “I decided to add my assists up and it was over 1,500, so I was really excited.”

An unexpected turn

Davis grew up in what she calls a “basketball family.” Her father coached the sport for years and Davis’ sister played college hoops. Davis inevitably picked up a basketball at a young age.

The sport did not quite feel like the right fit, however.

“Freshman year, I ended basketball season and it just wasn’t clicking,” Davis said.

Davis also went out for volleyball in middle school. While spending hours in open gym for basketball increasingly evoked a “Do I have to go?” response from Davis, open gym for volleyball inspired an “Oh yeah! I want to go.”

When her sophomore year rolled around, Davis committed herself to volleyball. After the regular high-school season ended, Davis went out for a traveling team in Jackson organized by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). She and her teammates competed at tournaments across Wyoming, Utah and Idaho and sometimes as far afield as Denver.

Davis also found herself on the Lady Wrangler varsity squad as the team’s setter her sophomore year.

“Playing with the seniors as the little sophomore – that was super intimidating,” Davis said. “I had to fake it until I made it. Even if I was having a rough game, I had to smile because I didn’t want the other players to worry about me.”

Davis gradually gained confidence in her volleyball abilities on the PHS varsity starting lineup. The experience of stepping onto the court for the first time as a sophomore taught Davis to be patient with the younger players.

“I know what it feels like to be the underdog playing with the big dogs,” Davis said. “When sophomores and juniors came up (from junior varsity) and played varsity this year, I tried to be as welcoming as possible.”

Davis spent countless hours in the gym honing her skills as setter. Her regimen consisted of showing up early each day before regular practice commenced to work with PHS assistant coach Don Jackson, the team’s setting specialist.

“We would take 30 to 45 minutes before actual practice started and do setter-specific drills and endurance stuff,” Davis said. “Coach Jackson definitely worked us hard, which is good, because that really paid off.”

A challenging conference

The Lady Wranglers compete in what is arguably one of the toughest quadrants in the state. Pinedale’s opponents include perennial state champion and runner-up powerhouse programs from the Bridger Valley, along with a scrappy Lander squad.

Games between the Lady Wranglers and their conference rivals frequently came down to the wire in exciting matches that went beyond three sets. Maintaining the mental strength to endure five neck-and-neck, grueling sets takes a novel approach to teamwork.

“This year, we created a buddy system so that we could talk to each other in practice and games,” Davis explained. “It’s a lot easier to talk to one person than trying to talk to the whole team. The buddy system was a way to lift each other up and say, ‘Hey we can do this. Keep going.’ That was definitely helpful in five-set games.”

Pinedale squared off against Lander twice during the regular season. The Lady Wranglers defeated the Lady Tigers, 3-2, in five epic sets on Sept. 14.

On Oct. 19, Pinedale again hosted Lander for Senior Night and battled the Lady Tigers beyond three sets. The Lady Wranglers dug deep following a loss in the first set to trounce Lander in three subsequent sets.

“Our Senior Night game against Lander was a highlight,” Davis said. “We went to Lander previously and won in five (sets). Winning in four and by a pretty good chunk of points was a really good feeling.”

Davis plans to continue her volleyball career after high school and is exploring options at community colleges in Wyoming and Arizona.

“I’ll start out at 2-year colleges, and if I love it, I’ll move on,” Davis said.

Davis’ career interests encompass marketing, business and entrepreneurship. She is a member of the National Honor Society and National Art Honor Society.

Davis thanked her parents for driving her to practices and attending games over the years.

“That parental support is important,” she said.

Davis also gave a shoutout to the PHS coaching staff – Don Jackson in particular – for devoting “all that time to me.” She also expressed gratitude to her AAU coaches.

Davis concluded with a bit of advice for upcoming volleyball players.

“Keep practicing – it comes over time. You will be rewarded.”