Ignacio’s Ebonee Gomez (47) practices setting prior to road action at Dolores this season. Primarily the Volleycats’ libero in 2018, Gomez was named Honorable Mention All-SJBL.
Now a junior at La Conner High School in La Conner, Wash., former Ignacio standout Morgan Herrera (16) goes for a kill shot in 2018. Herrera recently helped LCHS win the WIAA Class 2B State Championship this fall.
Ignacio’s Makayla Howell (7) jokes with teammate Divine Windy Boy (10) during a pause in play against Kit Carson during the 2018 Simla Invitational. Howell was named Second Team All-SJBL for her volleyball efforts this fall, while KCHS went on to earn a second straight Class 1A State Championship and improve to 55-1 overall since 2017.
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Courtesy Brad Reynolds | La Conner Weekly News
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
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Howell, Gomez score SJBL v-ball salutes

Ignacio junior Makayla Howell and sophomore Ebonee Gomez were recently named to the All-San Juan Basin League Volleyball Team, released at the conclusion of the 2018 season which saw only one SJBL squad survive to see the Denver Coliseum and the CHSAA State Championships.

Howell officially earned Second Team All-SJBL along with Dolores’ Cameron Schaefer and Sydney Smith, Telluride’s Danika Petit, Mancos’ Magdalena Halls from the circuit’s Class 2A side.  DHS’ Jordan Elder, Tatum Majors and Abby Jones, Telluride’s Jess Pack and Sierra Shambaugh, as well as Mancos’ Morgan Rose were the First Team honorees.

DHS ended up 18-4 overall this fall, stopped one win away from making the trip to the Mile High City.  THS finished 13-10 overall, while Mancos went 10-12 and Ridgway 1-19.

IHS finished 8-15 overall, but went 5-1 beginning the October grind and 6-4 overall during the month as the ’Cats sought to sneak into the postseason.  Gomez received Honorable Mention All-SJBL along with Telluride’s Baylee Williams and Mancos’ Ericka Peacock from the loop’s 2A half, plus Norwood’s Morgan Wallace and Ouray’s Jaden Kunz from the 1A side.

Dove Creek, meanwhile, repped the SJBL at State in Class 1A and finished 20-5 after losses to McClave and Weldona-based Weldon Valley put them out of the double-elimination tournament.  Lady Bulldogs Breea Meyer, Madilyn Hankins and Cassie Gatlin were named First Team All-League, while Taylor Hickman and Grace Hatfield were Second Team selections.

Under new head coach Sheri Carr-LaCosse, taking over for longtime boss Debbie Wytulka, Nucla broke an even 12-12 led by First Team picks Aide Chavez and Ashley Steele, plus Second Team-ers Taryn Sickels and Chyenne Smith.

Losing to the rival Lady Mustangs in the 1A-District 1 Tournament, Norwood struggled to finish 3-17 with Lilli Parrino named First Team All-SJBL and Jenna Baugh a Second Team choice.  Led this year by new skipper Alex Durham, OHS ended up 4-14 with Kaydee Alvarez earning Second Team distinction.

Yuma (28-1 overall) reached the Class 2A grand finale for the fifth straight year and won their second championship during that span, sweeping Denver Christian (27-2 overall) 25-21, 25-14, 25-14.  Meanwhile in 1A Kit Carson—which Ignacio faced at the Simla Invitational—went on to win a second consecutive crown 19-25, 25-18, 26-24, 25-21 over La Veta.

KCHS finished 27-1 overall, losing only a regular-season five-gamer to YHS, while LVHS ended up 27-2 with both losses against KCHS.




At the Volleycats’ end-of-year banquet dinner held Nov. 28, Howell was named Ignacio’s varsity MVP while senior Reyna Cruz was named Player-of-the-Year, according to information provided by head coach Thad Cano.  Howell and senior Kiana Valdez shared the Coaches’ Award.

Senior Rosie Concepcion received the Coaches’ Award—recognizing classroom achievement as well as contributions to the team—for Shasta Pontine’s junior varsity, while senior Izabella Howe received MVP and senior Briana Duran Player-of-the-Year. Coach Katrina Richards’ C-team recognitions went to junior Aliyana White (POY), sophomore Jazmin Carmenoros (MVP) and freshman Alannah Gomez (Coaches’ Award).




Former IHS standout Morgan Herrera, now in her junior year and residing in Washington, helped her new crew at La Conner H.S. earn the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Class 2B State Championship back on Nov. 9.

LCHS defeated Mossyrock—who’d lost the 2017 title tilt in five games to Colfax—in four (24-26, 25-22, 25-21, 25-11) to cap their two-day run through the 16-team bracket and finish the 2018 campaign standing 23-2-1 overall.

Herrera booked four kills and six digs during the grand finale inside the Yakima Valley SunDome, and later received the WIAA Sportsmanship Award—which didn’t surprise skipper Suzanne Marble.

“Although her stats don’t tell the story, her attitude and heart say it all!  She has that intense attitude that inspires others because she genuinely cares,” said Marble.  “She truly played the game with heart and passion—I would always have to tell her to settle just a little and be patient…to not slap my hand so hard when she came to a timeout or out of a game.”

In her first season with the Lady Braves, Herrera—unable to be reached by the Drum’s deadline—earned First Team All-Northwest League (a combined 2B/1B loop, not unlike the San Juan Basin), with reported stats showing her with 130 kills (third-most on the team), 121 digs (sixth) and 38 service aces (second).

“Morgan definitely added firepower to our team, not only in her play, but her enthusiasm and love of the game and her teammates,” Marble said.

“What a blessing La Conner has been for us!” added mother Kathy Herrera, now La Conner’s athletic director as well as Grade 5-12 assistant principal.  “The girls struggled at first, but then they found their niche.  Watching Morgan play with this volleyball team was amazing and I am looking forward to seeing what they can accomplish in the next year and a half.”

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