Ellison named Slope’s Player of the Year
EDWARDS — Mackenzie Ellison leads a star-studded pack of Battle Mountain volleyball honorees after a season in which the Huskies made their first state-tournament appearance since 2007.
Ellison and Jordan Brandt were first-teamers, while Emily Clinton, Maddie Perkins and Taylor Anderson were honorable-mention selections.
In addition, Madame Ellison is the 4A Slope’s Player of the Year, CHSAA all-state and playing in Saturday’s all-state game in Arvada.
“I knew we would have a good season,” Ellison said. “I didn’t know we were going to make it to state. I sure hoped we did. After everything we did as a team, I’m very proud of that.”
Ellison is the Huskies first Player of the Year winner since, well, last year when LaRose Currie shared the award with Glenwood Springs’ Delaney Gaddis.
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“The last half of the season, Mackenzie took on the senior leadership role,” Huskies coach Jason Fitzgerald said. “She’s a fundamentally fantastic player, and we used her in a dynamic way.”
Of course it never hurts to have an assassin at your side in Brandt. (And we mean assassin in the nicest way possible.) The Slope’s coaches, having been burned by Brandt’s strikes, voted her first team.
“Her size and athletic ability proved a treat for us,” Fitzgerald said. “If you want to compete with the big kids, you’ve got to have big kids.”
Honor roll continues
With any set of all-league selections comes arguments. It is perhaps unfortunate that Clinton is honorable mention. A case could be made for first team, but, before she runs for president in 2016, Clinton was a huge part of the 2014 Huskies.
“I think under different circumstances, she could have gained more notoriety over the course of three years on varsity,” Fitzgerald said. “She is one of those anchors for a team. Many people wouldn’t notice, but they do in the volleyball community.”
Perkins is a nice nod from the league coaches. She had one of the most-discussed rolled ankles in the recent history of Battle Mountain. She went down on Oct. 2 and didn’t come back until regionals two weeks ago. What’s interesting is that the league voted before regionals, and Perkins still got the vote.
It really seemed unlikely she would return, but she did in dramatic fashion during Game 2 against Windsor during the regional tournament.
“She was out of her boot and on the floor in three days (after the injury),” Fitzgerald said. “She showed her teammates she wanted to come back. She wanted to do it.”
Anderson, the team’s libero, rounds out the awards crew. She probably deserved the honor for having to play against this attack every day in practice, much less putting her body in front of opponents’ big attacks.
“She saw the challenge and stood up to it,” Fitzgerald said. “Against Valor Christian (at state) when we’d been eliminated, she was still making some of the greatest digs I’ve seen. Don’t tell her it didn’t mean anything.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.