Vail Valley spikers haul home awards
Where to start when it comes to the postseason honors for the local volleyball teams?
Eagle Valley and Vail Christian essentially had their starting lineups named to their respective all-league teams.
The Devils’ Alex Lassa is the co-Player of the Year in the 4A Slope and also made the All-State Tournament Team. Eagle Valley’s Shawn Weatherred won his second Coach of the Year award. And Eagle Valley’s Shelby Wright, Battle Mountain’s Krista Norris and Vail Christian’s Dakota Francis have been tabbed for Saturday’s Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports state games down in Broomfield.
Eagle County has 14 all-leaguers in all among Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, Vail Christian and Vail Mountain.
No. 16 and the coach
Lassa is the co-Player of the Year with Palisade’s Audrey Steinkirchner. Both are just juniors, so expect this rivalry to continue next fall. No. 16 also got tabbed by the coaches down at the Denver Coliseum as a member of the All-State Tournament Team.
“It’s really exciting,” Lassa said. “I’m just glad I got noticed. I think its an honor to be a part of our team. Going as far as we did doesn’t happen often. I’m very happy to have been a part of this program this year.”
While Lassa’s ability to smite a volleyball into submission is the most-noticed part of her game, she is a complete volleyball player. When she rotated into the back row, teams, even at state, would serve at her, thinking they might find a weakness in Eagle Valley’s defense. They were mistaken. Lassa can dig and pass, too, kids.
Weatherred picked up his second Coach of the Year nod. As is typical for him, he thanked everyone except the Hollywood Foreign Press. We kid, but it’s well-deserved when your team’s record the last two years is a combined 47-9.
On a serious note, Weatherred thanked his players and the Eagle Valley administration – principal Mark Strakbein, assistant principal Eric Mandeville and athletic director Cliff Zehring – for their support.
“Playing for Shawn is great,” Lassa said. “He has a different approach. If you’re not giving 100 percent in practice, he will get upset. He won’t yell like some coaches, but you know he’s upset.”
The season is not over for Wright, Norris and Francis. They will represent their schools in the 4A and 1A state games at Broomfield Saturday.
Whether Wright will play or not is still up in the air. The senior said Wednesday that she had x-rays on her right ankle, which she hurt at state, and that there were no broken bones. She’s feeling better day by day. Whether she’ll hit the court or not, she will go down to Broomfield for the awards banquet.
Selection to the state game as well as all-league honors are well-deserved for Wright. She shifted from outside-hitter to middle-block, not an easy transition, this season, and it was critical in Eagle Valley’s success.
“(All the awards) are pretty awesome,” Wright said. “It shows we had a mot of contributors to different parts of the game. Shila (Branch) on defense, we wouldn’t have gotten here without her. Balls would have dropped onto the court. Becka (VanVoorst) is next. She connects to the all of our hitter. We had the right people for the positions.”
Francis got the nod for the 1A game. She and sophomore Paris Baker were the answer to Vail Christian’s biggest question coming into the season at middle block.
Dakota is also the last of the Francis line at Vail Christian. She follows Jaryd and Sammantha, yet has established herself as an accomplished three-sport athlete in volleyball, basketball and soccer and will be on the Saints’ Wall of Fame when she graduates this spring.
Norris was simply the attack for Battle Mountain, lending veteran leadership to a young Huskies squad.
Lassa and Wright have plenty of company in all-league circles. VanVoorst joins those two on the first team. As Wright rightly noted, setter VanVoorst ran the show when it came to the attack. Weatherred gave VanVoorst the green light to run the offense based on the flow of a match and she had a masterful touch there.
Lauren Shreeve and Kelsey VanGoey are two a trio of Devils who got honorable mention. Both outsides stepped up their game in a big way in 2010. These two gave the Devils options. When teams gravitated to Lassa, VanVoorst simply went the other way with the set to these two, making Eagle Valley so difficult to defend.
Speaking of defense, Devils libero Branch got honorable mention as well. Not only did she spend all season in practice getting pounded by attacks from Eagle Valley’s hitters, but she was flawless in serve-receive, an unsung hero.
Weatherred said that he would have liked to have seen middle-block Daillen Culver get some recognition. The senior was honorable mention last year.
“I think Daillen had a harder role this year,” the coach said. “She didn’t get the numbers on the stat sheet, but she was doing the things which freed up other players. You always want everybody on (all-league).”
If you’re a junior on the Vail Christian volleyball team, you made first team all-league. That would be setter Kylie Alexander, libero McKenzie O’Brien and outside-hitter Ashlyn Gruber.
O’Brien is Hoover vacuum cleaner in the back row, while Gruber lets her hitting do the talking for her.
Just as a reminder, when it comes to young Alexander, a coach cannot vote for her own player in this process, and Kylie’s earned her spurs already with her second-all league selection. This was the year Kylie, already a gifted player, embraced the tactical side of the game.
But it does bring up a fun angle to this season for Vail Christian. Coach Cathy Alexander does have those moments where she steps out of her role after games and becomes the proud mom. One particular moment was at regionals, when the Saints clinched a spot in state.
“As a mom, I got to be the first one on the floor to give her a hug,” Cathy said. “As a mom, I knew what that meant.”
That pretty much applies to all of Vail Christian’s postseason honorees, including honorable-mentions Reanna Sutherland, Tracey Salgado and Francis.
“Dakota gave me a scrapbook after the end of the season and there was a picture of her on a climbing wall when she was 8,” the coach said. “I’ve known these kids forever and it’s really gratifying to see them get a goal they’ve wanted to achieve.”
In a development which surprised absolutely no one, Krista Norris represents Battle Mountain on the first team all-league roll. Every 4A Slope opponent had to game-plan for the senior.
“I think Krista was such a force on our team,” Huskies coach Lara Bossow said. “”She helped us turn it around in league in the second half.”
After an 0-6 start in the Slope, Battle Mountain went 3-3 in its second pass through the circuit. Norris’ big kills were one reason why. Another was the play of setter Jayna Horn, who got honorable mention. She played through a sprained ankle and was elevated to one of the captain’s spots for the second half.
Here is a great trivia question. Sophomore libero Ellen Edgerton earned all-league honors for the second time in as many years, and can become just the second spiker from the Vail Mountain School to win first-team honors in all four years of her career.
Who was the first?
Bossow, aka Tree? Nope. And no to Maggie Haslee, Julie Littman, Tiffany Allan or Molly Etters.
It’s Cely Brinkmann. (Don’t worry. That stumped the author, so give it up for VMS coach Mike Garvey, who came up with that pearl.)
“We are phenomenally-thankful that Ellen is coming back for another couple of years,” Garvey said. “She anchors or defense and serve-receive.”
Ellen shared the honor last year with her sister, Cynthia. This year she shares it with Clare Elich, who was honorable mention for the Gore Rangers.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
Volleyball postseason honors
4A Slope co-Player of the Year: Alex Lassa, Eagle Valley
4A Slope coach of the Year: Shawn Weatherred, Eagle Valley
Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports all-state games: Shelby Wright, Eagle Valley; Krista Norris, Battle Montain, Dakota Francis, Vail Christian
Eagle Valley: Lassa, Wright, B. VanVoorst, Branch, L. Shreeve, VanGoey
Vail Christian. K. Alexander, O’Brien, A. Gruber, Francis, Sutherland, Salgado
Battle Mountain: Norris, Horn
Vail Mountain: E. Edgerton, C. Elich
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