Last season, the Dove Creek High School volleyball team was nearly unstoppable in route to an appearance in the state semifinals. This season, the Bulldogs roster and coaching staff will be far different.
Leading the Bulldogs this season will be head coach Melissa Carver, a Dolores High School graduate, who coached middle school volleyball in Dove Creek the past two seasons.
Chief among the challenges facing Carver will be figuring out a way to fill the void left by eight players who graduated last season. To do so, Carver hopes to utilize an up-up-tempo style of play.
“We are a young team, but we have a lot of talent,” said Carver. “We have a lot of quickness and we’re trying to figure out how we can utilize that because we don’t have a lot of height.”
Figuring to play a key role on this year’s team will be senior outside hitter Ana Lee, who registered 35 kills and 33 minutes last season. While Lee admitted that replicating last year’s season will be difficult, she expressed confidence in this year’s players.
“We’ve got a lot of potential on this team,” said Lee. “If we keep working and keep fixing our weaknesses, we’ll become a stronger team later in the year.”
Starting at the other outside hitter position for the Bulldogs this season will be senior Kylee Fullmer, who played in just seven varsity sets last season.
“We’re mostly just trying to come together,” said Fullmer. “We’re starting from scratch and building a whole new team.”
Freshman LaRissa Randolph will start at setter for this year’s Bulldogs team, while senior Joey Fisher and sophomore Kris Johnson will begin the season in the middle. Transfer student Shelby Fullmer will also play in the middle during the second half of the season.
Discussing the goals for this year’s team, Carver said that coaches and players are expecting big things.
“I’d like to come out at the top of our league and go into the playoffs as far as we can get,” said Carver. “We’ve got some pretty optimistic goals.”
Among the challenging matchups on this year’s schedule are San Juan Basin League contests against Norwood, Nucla, Ridgway, Ignacio, Mancos, Dolores and Ouray. Non-league opponents include Newcomb and Sangre De Cristo.
The Bulldogs will open their season with road matchups against Ouray and Cap Rock on Aug. 30.
“We hope (Ouray) will be a challenging game for us,” said Lee. “We want to step our game up, bring each other together and win.”