Vail Christian volleyball celebrates win, seniors
North Park goes down in three
So who’s spent more time in the Wheeler Events Center, aka the Vail Christian gym, between seniors Maddie Ellsworth and Abby Kuhns?
Ellsworth is the fourth of six of her family to wear Vail Christian blue and while, while Kuhns’ father is the only boys’ basketball coach the school has known.
Trick question, people. The answer is Brady Ellsworth, the youngest of the clan. Brady was there Friday night standing next to his father, Todd, in the Ellsworth “skybox,” the nook in the northwestern corner of the gym, watching Vail Christian volleyball sweep past North Park, 25-18, 25-16, 25-17, on Senior Night Friday.
The Saints and their seniors moved to 10-8 overall and 8-3 in the 2A Western Slope. Two years ago, the Class of 2020 was part of an 0-19 trainwreck of a season, so now, as seniors, they may strut a little.
“Must we keep talking about that? I’m just saying,” senior Mari Engleby said.
Fair enough. The quartet of Saints seniors — Ellsworth, Engleby, Kuhns and Brooke Layman — is an accomplished group on and off the court.
Meet the crew
Ellsworth children seem foreordained to play sports for the Saints. Alexis, Austin and Sug (Ethan) are alumni of the school and have left their mark on Saints athletics. Maddie is teammates with sister Sydney, a sophomore, and Brady, as noted, seems to have been warming up in the bullpen for the last few years.
“It’s a lot to live up to,” Maddie said. “It’s a lot of pressure. But it pushes me to be better, the best I can.”
Layman is the only one of the quartet not to have an older brother. Perhaps, her folks can remedy that situation. (Layman said she’s fine with her sister.)
Layman has spent her volleyball career being a human pinata as the team’s libero.
“It’s so much fun. I love being able to dig the ball,” she said. “It’s like being the backbone of this team, working my rear end off.”
When the dig comes up, it goes to Kuhns, the setter. Like Ellsworth, Kuhns isn’t going to get lost in a gym. Dad’s the basketball coach. Mom keeps the scorebook. Older brother, Ethan, played and now it’s Abby.
“It’s just been like a culture in my house, just growing up and seeing all the examples set for me and being able to finish strong my senior year is exciting,” she said.
Engleby’s a three-sporter like Kuhns, also on the volleyball, basketball, track teams, which begs the question for all four, when do they sleep?
“That is a great question. I don’t sleep a lot,” Engleby said.
And while rightly Engleby doesn’t want to hear any more about 2017, these seniors have helped lead Vail Christian volleyball back.
The Saints sit in third place behind only Meeker and West Grand in the league, play Plateau Valley today in Colbran, and will be off to the league tournament next weekend.
Sitting at No. 34 in the rating-percentage index — with 36 teams going to regionals in two weeks — heading into Friday’s match, a lot is on the line.
“It’s unreal, especially with the group of girls we have because we’ve all been through so much,” Engleby said. “Finally coming out on top, it’s sad that we have to leave when it’s getting insanely good. But we’re proud to be a part of it.”