DENVER – Dove Creek could make a compelling argument that they were the No. 2 team in the 1A classification this year.
In the program’s first state semi appearance in a decade, Dove Creek proved to the state that in a classification that has been notoriously dominated by Eastern Plains schools, Southwest Colorado has their place at the table on the state’s biggest stage.
No team pushed eventual state champion Merino (27-1) as hard as the Bulldogs, and even in their three-set defeat in the state semifinals, Dove Creek made sure to leave their mark on the Denver Coliseum floor.
Much like Merino, Dove Creek didn’t lose to a 1A school through the entirety of the regular season on their way to a 26-4 final record, including a 4-2 record at the state tournament – with their only losses coming in their two meetings with the Rams in the bracket.
The run served as the third straight year with multiple wins at state, an indicator of the caliber of athlete and continuity of program excellence achieved over that span.
Coinciding with that stretch, seniors Kalie and Kylie Gatlin, along with classmate Halee Beanland enjoyed their last foray onto the court – having served as impact players during the course of a wildly successful past four years.
“I think the girls can leave with their heads high,” said head coach Lacey Murphy. “I couldn’t be prouder of this team and the great career end for our seniors.”
Dove Creek’s curtain call, a 25-20, 25-15, 25-23 loss to Merino, brought a close to the impressive careers with a cumulative record of 89-17. Kalie Gatlin surpassed 2,500 assists and 1,000 digs for her career, while sister Kylie also amassed over the 1K mark in both kills and digs.
“It’s been amazing to coach these girls over the years, and I will definitely miss them,” added Murphy.