Devils spikers flood all-league team
GYPSUM, Colorado – The question when it comes to postseason honors with Eagle Valley volleyball is whether they made all-league or all-Gypsum.
The two are pretty much one and the same. The first team all-leaguers are setter Becka VanVoorst, outsides Alex Lassa, and Shelby Wright and middle Jamie Bair. Honorable mentions are libero Jaclyn Taylor and middle Daillen Culver. The Coach of the Year is Shawn Weatherred.
If this is starting to sound like pregame introduction for a match against Delta or Palisade, well, you aren’t the only one.
The Devils won their second-straight 4A Slope title in 2009 and have a 26-2 record in the league the last two seasons, and that generally leaves an impression on the opposing coaches who vote in these things.
“I think it shows how much hard work we’ve put in,” Wright said. “It doesn’t matter that we’re from a small town. We’ve got a good team. I’m really proud of everyone for getting named.”
Since the members of Eagle Valley volleyball have done most everything as one in the last two years, including two appearances in regionals and a district title, VanVoorst felt it appropriate that postseason honors be a team activity as well.
“I feel so honored and so excited,” she said. “But I wish our whole team got it. It’s a team sport and everybody took part in how far we got this year.”
Props to the coach
While there have to be spots for players from all teams in the Slope, there usually is only one Coach of the Year, and it’s Weatherred.
The coach himself naturally downplayed the honor saying all the usual things about how it’s a reflection of the success of the program and that the it’s how the players play that wins this award. His players, however, would have none of that.
“He’s different than any other coach I’ve had,” Wright said. “He very calm and he’s sarcastic and practice is always a blast. I’ve never been able to say that I dread going to practice. He’s one of those coaches who keeps you going.”
In his two years at the helm, Weatherred has guided the Devils to more than 40 wins.
“I think he’s a perfect coach for high school,” VanVoorst said. “He’s not the type to get angry or say something mean. He knows how to communicate with each player on an individual level.”
Eagle Valley’s attack was big all season and well-represented on the all-league rolls.
While Lassa probably brings the biggest “wow” factor with her kills, Wright was simply consistent all season, something easier said than done.
“She’s a great presence,” Weatherred said. “She never gets rattled and provides a lot of leadership out there. She’s a calming presence. She played as a sophomore, so she has a lot of experience. She’s a steady influence for everybody.”
Bair held down the middle with aplomb, getting herself in position for blocks. The Devils coaching staff was particularly excited about her selection, given that she’s a multi-sport athlete.
“She isn’t a club player,” Weatherred said. “She plays just about every sports Eagle Valley offers. She plays basketball, She does track and field in the spring and volleyball in the fall. She had one year on varsity and getting recognized like this is very cool.”
Lassa, just a sophomore, has turned heads ever since she put on an Eagle Valley jersey last fall. What impressed Weatherred this season was the way she developed her role on the team.
“She started to step up in the huddle and be more vocal. Hopefully, we’ll see more of that in the future,” the coach said. “She’s a sophomore and understands her place on the team. She goes out there and plays hard and is ultra-competitive, and she holds her teammates to that standard.”
Behind a great bunch of hitters there must always be a great setter and VanVoorst is no exception.
“Becka had a great year as a setter,” Weatherred said. “The kids don’t get their kills without her setting. She made us successful. We didn’t pass as well as a team as we had hoped, so her ability to set a hittable ball put us in matches.”
Taylor represents the defense in Eagle Valley’s all-league contingent. The libero, Taylor adjusted well to the difficult role.
“She was one of our more vocal leaders,” the coach said. “It takes a while to wear the opposite color jersey (as libero). A lot of girls try it and can’t handle it. She loved it.”
Culver was probably one of the more under-rated players on the team. But to those who watched her closely in her first full year of varsity volleyball, this is an astute selection.
“She’s not the most powerful. She doesn’t bounce the ball like others, but her stats back it up,” Weatherred said. “Her ball will find the floor.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.