Log In

Reset Password

Dove Creek volleyball team rolls to perfect start

M-CHS junior Avery Wright spikes the ball into the hands of Dove Creek sophomores Lexi Gray and Trista Barnett last season. (Journal file photo)
Bulldogs look to carry momentum into league play

When Dove Creek head coach Lacey Murphy set up the 2022 volleyball schedule, she wanted her team to be battle-tested by the season’s end.

One-third of the way through the campaign, her Bulldogs have stepped up to every challenge, picking up wins in their first nine matches, including a pair of wins over 3A opponents Alamosa and Pueblo Central, to help Dove Creek head into San Juan Basin League play on a roll.

Unbeaten Dove Creek (9-0, 1-0 2A/1A SJBL) has gotten notice statewide as it rose to No. 3 in the 1A classification in the most recent CHSAA coaches poll.

Murphy’s squad has conceded only four sets, half of them during their 3-2 victory over the Mean Moose. The Bulldogs leaned on emerging sophomore star Ralynn Hickman, who had 32 kills in their two-match sweep of their 3A opposition.

One of five returning starters, Hickman joined her sister, Rylee, who has split her time between the Bulldogs volleyball team and shortstop for the Montezuma-Cortez softball squad, another unbeaten local team.

Dove Creek’s victories over Alamosa and Pueblo Central brought out the challenge of a tournament – playing competitive matches in one day. Last year’s run in the 1A state tournament gave Murphy’s team a taste of what a title run would take.

Junior Kylie Gatlin and senior Trista Barnett have joined Ralynn in the attacking barrage for the Bulldogs, as the trio are all averaging better than two kills per set. Senior Lexi Gray makes the net play difficult for opponents, leading the team in blocks, while junior Kalie Gatlin continues her steady play as setter, accounting for more than 200 assists this season.

Altogether, it makes for a fearsome combination for the Bulldogs, as the whole group has shown the capacity to play all six rotations. Murphy has also looked to work in some of her underclassmen into challenging opportunities to give the offense an added dimension.

A 3-1 victory over Monticello (3-7) on Wednesday, Sept. 7, helped propel Dove Creek in to a heavy two-week stretch of SJBL play, as the Bulldogs meet Nucla, Norwood, and Ignacio, before a third showdown with Mancos on Tuesday, Sept. 20. The Bluejays (4-2, 1-0 2A/1A SJBL) are just one of three opponents to take a set from Dove Creek this season.