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Mancos volleyball team earns a perfect 10

Riley Cannon and Teya Yeomans (5) keep the ball in play for their teammates in this photo from 2021. Yeomans, now a senior, has led the team in kills and digs. Sam Green/Special to The Journal
Bluejays unbeaten through first half

MANCOS – Not every moment has on-point for the Mancos volleyball program this season.

The results, however, tell a different tale.

The Bluejays sit in the catbird seat atop the San Juan Basin League with a 10-0 start to the 2023 season, thanks to dominant play that has seen Mancos drop only four sets en route to their strongest start in program history.

Wins over Montezuma-Cortez and Nucla in the past week upped the streak heading into a rematch with Dove Creek on Tuesday night.

For head coach Brianna Yeomans-Allison, the body of work accomplished so far by Mancos hasn’t fully reflected the ceiling for the Jays, but the wins and expectations reflect the skyrocketing confidence within the program.

“We’re holding ourselves to a higher standard,” said Yeomans-Allison. “The girls have been saying and believing that ‘we deserve to win’ – we’ve put in the time in the offseason.”

The Bluejays jumped out to a quick two-set lead against M-CHS while controlling play at the net. After the Panthers responded with a third set win, Mancos closed the door with a 25-14 final stanza for their second straight win over M-CHS.

At the forefront, Teya Yeomans appears to be a front-runner for SJBL Player of the Year, as the Montana State University-bound senior has shown her versatility by leading the team in both kills and digs.

Mancos jumped up the CHSAA Seeding Index with their early-season charge, climbing to the No. 2 team in the state in the 2A classification. The ranking validates the ambition – Mancos seeks to return to the state tournament for the first time since 2011, which coincides with the last time the Bluejays enjoyed a 20-win season.

Haylie Higgins (12) blocks Ignacio's Harmony Reynolds (5) during a 2021 match in the IHS Gymnasium. Higgins been the team’s top blocker this season. (Joel Priest/Special to The Journal)

Not only are the Jays set up for a fantastic run when SJBL play really heats up, Mancos appears primed for several more seasons among the best in 2A. Aside from Yeomans and classmate Haylie Higgins, the vast majority of the Bluejays on the floor are in the Class of 2026 or 2027. Underclassmen Brooke Jabour, Aubree Wyatt, and Bailey Beh have played in every set the Jays this year, joining a pair of sophomores – Claire Goodwin and Aysia Mathews – who had started since their first matches on campus.

“The girls know their roles,” said Yeomans-Allison, “and that means we can ask different things from everybody – which makes us more dangerous because we have so many options.”

While success in November is awfully enticing at the moment, for Higgins, the day-to-day moments for the program are the primary focus.

“Our team attitude has been the best in any of the years I’ve been here,” said Higgins. Our captains have been pulling us up – we’ve had a ‘next play’ mentality, which helps us when something goes wrong – just focus on the next opportunity.”

Higgins has led an enforcing front line as the team’s top blocker this season, but it’s been a full unit effort to make life difficult on opponent attackers.

“It helps to have a lot of height on the team,” said Higgins – both she and Beh are listed above 6feet, “and our setters are putting us in position, so we’re looking to swing away.”

After their clash with the Bulldogs, Mancos will have a week away from competition, before facing county rival Dolores on Sept. 28 and Telluride two days later. Mancos returns to their home fieldhouse on Oct. 5 for a visit from Ignacio.