Lady Bulldogs’ season ends

Dove Creek volleyball squad concludes year at 1A state tournament

Dove Creek volleyball has arrived.

After winning a 1A regional title to go to state, the Lady Bulldogs felt disrespected being seeded 12th out of 12 teams.

Dove Creek lost a five-set nail-biter to 8-seed Eads in an evenly matched contest, 3-2 (18-25, 25-19, 25-16, 21-25, 9-15). It was the first match of the Colorado High School Activities Association 1A Volleyball State Championships at the Denver Coliseum on Friday.

“Eads was an evenly matched team for us. Final result was they scored a 100 points and we scored 98,” Lady Bulldogs coach Scott Knuckles said. “We rebounded in sets 2 and 3 with good offense and kills.”

Dove Creek (16-10) got down early in the first set to Eads (20-6). The Lady Bulldogs played tight and tentative.

“A lot of it was being up at state in the big gym with four other matches going on at the same time,” said Knuckles about his team’s anxious play in the beginning.

After winning the next two sets, Dove Creek led 20-17 in the fourth set. But serving errors proved costly, as Eads won the set to force a deciding fifth set.

“We had five serving errors. To have that many errors in one set, it’s hard to overcome,” Knuckles said. “I don’t know if it’s the perspective of a huge gym, but it did affect our serving.”

Shelbie Knuckles had a solid double-double of 12 kills and 16 digs, while libero Kristin Knuckles totaled 16 digs. Madison Young recorded a team high 15 assists and Corissa Guynes chipped in 11 assists.

The loss to Eads pitted Dove Creek against No. 1-seed and eventual 1A state champion Weldon Valley. The Lady Bulldogs lost to the tall, athletic Weldon Valley squad, 3-0 (10-25, 12-25, 15-25).

“The girls played tough and stayed in it mentally,” coach Knuckles said. “They knew playing Eads and some of the other teams there, they knew they deserved to be there and that they could compete.”

Weldon Valley (28-2) beat Eads and Caliche in straight sets, and downed Fleming 3-1 en route to the state title.

Dove Creek will return its entire starting lineup of Shelbie Knuckes, Jennfer Fury, Young, Corissa and Jessica Guynes, Madison McCourt and Kristin Knuckles next season.

“Everybody still has to come in and prove themselves,” Scott Knuckles said. “Especially, depending on what offense we decide to run.”

A trip to state in 2013 appears very promising.

“The girls stepped it up at the right time. They stepped it up in districts and regionals to make it to state,” Scott Knuckles said. “Having the experience of state for next year and getting a taste of it, is huge. Even us coaches, we know what we need to do to get a higher seed. We just need to do better in the regular season to get a better seed in pool play.”

The Lady Bulldogs play in the difficult 2A/1A San Juan Basin League against mostly 2A competition. Norwood (1A) and Telluride (2A) were state tournament representatives, along with Dove Creek, from the SJBL.

“Seven of our losses were to state qualifying teams,” Scott Knuckles said. “A great experience for the girls and great season overall. I’m looking forward to improving and going back to state next year. They know they can compete with those schools. I’m very proud of the girls for their hard work.”

Shelbie Knuckles was named SJBL first-team All-Conference and Young made honorable mention.