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Bluejays carry gritty mentality into new campaign

Ignacio's Solymar Cosio (20) gets a fingertip deflection on an attack by Mancos' Teya Yeomans (5) during San Juan Basin League action in 2022. (Joel Priest/Special to the Journal)
Mancos volleyball continues ascent

Few teams have enjoyed a more dramatic ascent than the Mancos volleyball program.

After winning two matches during the pandemic-shortened season during the 2020-21 school year, the Bluejays have grown into one of the premier programs in the 2A classification.

Under third-year head coach Brianna Yeomans-Allison, the Jays have posted 29 wins over the past two seasons, including an 18-7 mark last year.

Now, with senior standout Teya Yeomans leading the way for Mancos, the Bluejays look primed to push for another successful year on the court. The returning all-state outside hitter posted over 400 kills a season ago, placing her atop the 2A, and looks to cap off a decorated high school career before officially signing with Montana State University later this fall. Yeomans will be the first Mancos female student-athlete to sign with an NCAA Division I school, according to her coach.

“We trust her volleyball IQ,” said Yeomans-Allison of Teya, “and she brings an emotional leadership that the rest of her teammates look to for guidance.”

Joining Yeomans will be a significant portion of their starting rotation from a season ago, including senior Haylie Higgins in the middle of the front line. Sophomores Claire Goodwin and Aysia Mathews made immediate impacts as freshmen a year ago, and now look to continue their growth in 2023.

“Those four girls have helped change out culture and hold their teammates to a higher standard,” said Yeomans-Allison of her returning starters, “and that’s helped our girls grow both individually and as a unit.”

A trip to last year’s regional round of the postseason gave the Jays a taste of the level they’ll need to reach in order to push for a state tournament berth.

“The girls put tons of time in the gym during the offseason,” added Yeomans-Allison, “and we’ve really focused on getting our young players up to speed.”

The Bluejays look to hit the ground running this year, as defending league champion Dove Creek High School makes a visit to Mancos on Tuesday, Aug. 22 for a clash of San Juan Basin League title contenders. Mancos will then prepare for Ignacio a week later, before a tournament over Labor Day weekend against multiple top 2A programs, including perennially-tough Sanford on Sept. 2.

A visit to Montezuma-Cortez on Sept. 12 gives the Bluejays a break from SJBL play, before the league stretch run through October, with a second meeting against Sanford slated to cap the home schedule on Oct. 20. Regional play commences in the first weekend of November, with the 2A state tournament hosted at the Denver Coliseum on Nov. 9-11.

“Our focus is on being brave, tough, and gritty this year,” said Yeomans-Allison, “and we look to be impactful and grow to make this our best season yet.”