Local spikers haul home honors
Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
As Bluto Blutarsky, as played by John Belushi, in “Animal House” reminds us, of course not.
The volleyball season ended with the state tournament last weekend, but then again it didn’t. We’ve got the Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports All-State Games Saturday at Arvada West High School, and some familiar faces will be there.
Eagle Valley’s Alex Lassa is in the 4A game, while Vail Christian’s Kylie Alexander, Ashlyn Gruber and McKenzie O’Brien all got invites to the 1A game.
That is just a minor sampling of the hardware brought home by our local spikers, so here we go:
Let’s Just say it – Alexander, Gruber and O’Brien are pretty good at this volleyball thing. In a development about as astonishing as lifts firing up in Vail in November the trio is all-league … again.
Alexander and Gruber shared the 2A Slope’s Player of the Year honors. (What? No O’Brien?)
And while we joke of the routine nature of these selections, they are well-deserved. This has been the core of the program and seen it to unprecedented success – three 20-win-plus seasons, two 2A Slope titles and two state appearances.
What was really nice is that coach Cathy Alexander really didn’t have to lobby her fellow coaches for their appearances in this week’s all-state game.
“They brought up Ashlyn and Kylie immediately. I didn’t have to say a word,” Cathy said. “When they got to liberos, it was like, ‘Gotta have O’Brien.’ They performed and their performances spoke for themselves.”
What the coach is hoping we’d leave out is that Cathy Alexander is also the 2A Slope Coach of the Year. She said all the right things about how the kids won her said honor with their skills and their approach to the game. But just as the record of the program the last three years speaks for the players’ success, it also shows that Cathy Alexander is very good at her craft.
Paris Baker, Gracen McGuckin and Kristen Currey made the honorable-mention roll for the 2A Slope. That would make your Saints’ starting six all-league in some form, further explaining how the team went 24-5.
Not so surprisingly, Lassa leads the way in the Devils’ postseason honors. Not only is she playing in this week’s all-state game, she shared 4A Slope Player of the Year honors with Palisade’s Audrey Steinkirchner.
That’s twice the two have shared that prize.
Lassa is bound for Rutgers University, but having her play for nearly four years at Eagle Valley does bring up one interesting question. Who hit the ball harder – Lara Bossow, who starred at the Vail Mountain School and then played at the University of Colorado or Lassa?
Since Bossow was an assistant coach at Eagle Valley for a few years, we put it to Devils coach Shawn Weatherred.
“It’s different,” he said. “Lara hit a really fast ball, while Alex hits a heavy ball. It’s like the coaches say, Alex’s ball is a bowling ball.”
Whatever the projectile comparison, opponents scattered. The same could be said for Kelsey VanGoey. She nabbed all-league honors, as did Erin Burnett.
“Kelsey was one of the quick choices for all-league,” Weatherred said. “Erin got it and that was the biggest surprise in a good way. She really developed her game this year.”
Proving that the cupboard will not be bare next year, junior Maddy McGinty and sophomore Ashley Newborn made all-league honorable mention.
Vail Mountain School
Death, taxes and Ellen Edgerton.
The VMS libero is a junior and won all-league for the third year in a row.
It takes a special kind of person to get in front of attacks from the opposing team’s best.
“It does take a unique person,” VMS coach Mike Garvey said. “Most people want to hit. That’s where the glory is. She’s someone who doesn’t mind playing the position. In fact, she enjoys doing it. She wants to be hit at all day long.”
Middle-block Monika Gehl makes her first appearance with Edgerton as an honorable mention. She’s a junior. The awards banquet for the Gore Rangers was quite nice because there are no seniors. Everyone returns and presumably Elizabeth Bolyard returns from injury, so the skies are sunny at VMS.
The Huskies will return all but senior Bailey Garton, and they will have two all-leaguers in their midst.
LaRose Currie made the first team, while Mackenzie Ellison was honorable mention.
Currie is just a sophomore and the prospect of a sophomore all-leaguer makes coaches like Jason Fitzgerald happy.
“I really felt she took on a good role expanding her game across the next as well as her defensive responsibilities,” he said. “I ask a a lot more of her now because she plays such a key position in our system.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.