Three Eagle Valley players named all-league
GYPSUM, Colorado ” Eagle Valley earned respect on the court for its hard-nosed play and its team-first attitude.
Slope coaches rewarded the Devils with three all-league selections, and three more on the honorable-mention squad.
The seniors carried the load for Eagle Valley the entire season, so it’s only fitting three were recognized for their play this year. Angela Phillips, Kelsey Foster and Whitney VanVoorst were all chosen first team all-league. The trio helped lead the Devils to their first 4A Slope title.
“It just shows the hard work and dedication paid off,” Eagle Valley coach Shawn Weatherred said. “None of them were all-league last year. It says a lot they got all-league (this season).”
Phillips, Foster and VanVoorst all brought something different to the Devils. Phillips played middle blocker despite being one of the smaller players on the court. Instead, she took advantage of her quickness to pound the ball to the floor.
Foster’s versatility worked well in Weatherred’s 6-2 offense. Either she set up her teammates for a kill, or she surprised the defense with a spike of her own.
VanVoorst’s inclusion on the all-league team should be a pleasant surprise for Eagle Valley, but not totally unexpected. The Devils were rolling along when VanVoorst went down win a severe knee injury on Sept. 30. Even in that amount of time, league coaches noticed VanVoorst’s knack for beating opposing blockers.
“For Whitney to get all-league says a lot about her ability,” Weatherred said. “It really says a lot about what the other coaches thought of her.”
Even after the injury, VanVoorst did her best to provide leadership to the rest of the Devils. She offered words of encouragement to her teammates at every chance.
“It was extremely hard (not being able to play),” VanVoorst said. “It was really difficult to be on the bench and not control what was happening. At the same time, I was on the bench, taking stats and cheering for the team. I’m glad the team was still able to do well this season.”
With VanVoorst leading the cheers, Foster, Phillips and a host of other Eagle Valley players regrouped. The Devils only lost one more regular-season match, and was crowned Slope champions.
Freshman Alex Lassa, sophomore Shelby Wright and junior Jaclyn Taylor were all honored for their hard work this season with honorable-mention selections.
Lassa showed her power as a hitter, and continued to improve as the season progressed. Weatherred is hoping Wright can be one of the players to take the torch from the departing seniors next season.
“Shelby, even as a sophomore, showed a lot of leadership,” Weatherred said. “She was a mainstay on the court. She had a close relationship with the seniors. She really learned a lot from them.”
Often overlooked, but not forgotten, was Taylor. She had the unenviable job of diving all over the floor trying to dig the opponent’s spikes at her libero position.
League coaches didn’t vote for 4A Slope Coach of the Year, but if they had, Weatherred would have almost assuredly taken the title. In his first season as head coach, Weatherred led Eagle Valley to a record of 20-6 (only two losses in the regular season) and the Slope title.
“I’ve known him for longer, but I was glad he was our coach (this year),” Phillips said. “He is such a positive person. He made a impact on us. (He told us) to be the best we can be. He is the person that should get all the credit.”
“He was an awesome coach,” VanVoorst said. “He was really good at motivating the team. He was really positive. When we did something well, he let us know. You could tell, he just really, really cared.”
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.