Shreeve garners player of the year honors
The Eagle Valley volleyball team won’t be playing in this weekend’s state tournament at the Denver Coliseum, but coach Karl Talcott’s team is going anyway.
“We’re going as a group on Friday, because that’s someplace they want to be next year,” said Talcott, whose team was eliminated from postseason play by Eaton and Yuma last weekend in its regional. “A record of 22-5 is something to be proud of. And, if we had gotten a few breaks in Game 4 against Yuma last weekend, we know it could have been us going to state this weekend.”
Despite the disappointing exit this year, after getting a state berth in 2002, the Devils proved that they will be a force in 2004, as their troop of talented juniors raked in the postseason all-league honors.
Kenzie Shreeve, the Devils do-everything outside hitter/middle blocker was awarded Player of the Year honors by the 3A Western Slope for her dominating offensive output, leading the state with kills and aces.
The 6-foot-1 junior, who is being recruited by a number of Division I programs, had 533 kills on 1,043 attack attempts, as well as notching 103 aces.
“Obviously, she was our biggest weapon,” said Talcott. “She brings a lot of heat. She has the ability to serve an ace every time she steps back to serve. When she got under a perfect set, the fans and the opposing coaches got quiet, because of the excitement she brings every time she hits the ball.”
The player who was serving up all of those perfect balls for Shreeve, Devils setter Whitney Donohue, was also honored, garnering a first-team, all-league selection along with Shreeve.
Donohue led all of 3A with 862 assists on the year, averaging just under nine per game, and was also second on the team in aces with 78.
“Whitney is our quarterback,” said Talcott. “She is our vocal leader. She’s also the most dynamic athlete on the team, as far as being in position. She’s got great hands and her character has improved dramatically this year.”
Eagle Valley also had two other all-league, first-team selections – senior captain Trista Sandoval and junior Kelli Verderber. Sandoval, despite being 5-foot-7, was a feisty middle blocker and led the team with blocks with 73. She also was second on the team with kills, tallying 167. Verderber was a reliable cog in the Devils’ attack, notching 20 assists, 113 kills and 46 aces.
“Trista was our spiritual leader,” said Talcott. “She was effective against other middles who had anywhere from four to six inches on her. Kelli just has incredible effort. She’s also got a great sense of humor. She always knew the right time to tell a joke to lighten things up.”
The other two Devils to garner all-league honors were outside hitter/defensive specialist Shannon Aragon and outside hitter Mariah Scott, who were both awarded honorable mentions.
Aragon didn’t lead the Devils in any statistical categories, but was an tenacious competitor whom Talcott credits for doing a lot of the dirty work.
“Her nickname is “Animal’ because she wasn’t afraid to dive for balls anywhere on the floor,” said Talcott. “Her determination is incredible.”
Scott, who fought through a knee injury all year, was also an inspirational player for Talcott’s club from her back line position. The 5-foot-11 junior was second on the team with digs, behind Shreeve with 233 for the season.
“Mariah was our cowgirl. She probably wished all year that she had just gone under the knife in September, but she just fought through pain all year and never complained,” said Talcott. “She’s incredibly tough.”
The Devils will return five out of six starters next year, losing only Sandoval to graduation, but their road to another district title will be a lot tougher as they move up to 4A, because of increasing school enrollment. The Devils will be matched against state contenders Steamboat and Glenwood Springs, as well as their rival Battle Mountain in the 4A Slope.
“It’s going to be a better competition for us,” said Talcott. “It might affect our record in terms of more losses, but it will be better for us in the long run, because we will be playing tougher teams. We feel like we are a team that is suited to make the jump up to 4A.”
Nate Peterson is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 608 or via email@example.com.