After falling one win short of a state tournament appearance last season, this year’s rendition of the Dove Creek High School girls volleyball team played its first two games of the season as if it were on a mission.
Opening its season at home against Whitehorse on Aug. 25, the Bulldogs used a combination of solid defense and opportunistic attacking to roll to a 25-10, 25-16, 25-10 victory.
Junior Cassie Gatlin led the Bulldogs in kills with 15, and senior Breea Meyer added 10. Junior Madilyn Hankins and sophomore Grace Hatfield each had four.
Gatlin also led Dove Creek in digs with 11, and Hankins made her defensive presence felt as the senior registered 10 digs. Junior Kiara Lingenfelter had nine digs, and sophomore Grace Hatfield had eight.
As a team, the Bulldogs hammered 13 aces in their opening match, including four by Gatlin and three by Hankins. Junior setter Taylor Hickman led Dove Creek in assists with 30.
In its second match of the season, in Grand Junction on Aug. 28, Dove Creek squared off against Caprock Academy and won 20-25, 25-9, 25-19, 25-6.
Keying the Bulldogs turnaround after their difficult first set was Gatlin, who registered 14 kills, five aces and 18 digs. Hankins also enjoyed a solid day as the senior hammered eight kills and picked up 12 digs.
Dove Creek also received a boost from Hickman, who showed her versatility and recorded 14 digs, five aces and 25 assists.
Now 2-0 on the season, Dove Creek will look ahead to its first San Juan Basin League match of the season, at home against Mancos on Aug. 28. The junior varsity match is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. with the varsity match to follow.