Volleyball names its best at year-end banquet

Ignacio sophomore Makayla Howell, left, looks over her IHS Volleyball Varsity MVP award with head coach, Thad Cano, at the team’s end-of-year banquet, Wednesday, Nov. 29.
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

More noticeable than the applause for the evening’s guest speaker – or even the award-winners as they were presented later on – was the reaction Lindy Mortensen got when she mentioned a team-building rule which her team follows on road trips.

Mentioning “zero cell phone” usage for the first hour aboard a bus, the longtime Adams State University skipper may have turned off – pun intended – some of the Ignacio Volleycats in the audience, listening during a prime-rib dinner at their end-of-season banquet Wednesday, Nov. 29.

For those still tuned in however, Mortensen’s anti-tech comment came a part of a larger talk about team unity and success in the wake of IHS’ 9-14 record in 2017, with the aforementioned remark made relative to how developing real-life communication and friendships within a team are often vital to its on-court performance.

Even more important than, say: hard work, perseverance, toughness, being a good teammate, and avoiding negative influences – all of which she discussed at length.

“I think it takes a special person to look outside that circle,” said Mortensen, whose Montezuma-Cortez H.S. teams went 60-0 in 4A/5A Southwestern League play from 1999-2004, and reached the Class 4A State Championships six times between ’96 and ’04.  “I want you to think, ‘How can I make someone’s day better today?’  I think that’s more important than winning volleyball games.  I like to win, but I don’t think that goes above….”

“I want you players to think of the legacy you’ll leave,” she continued.  “Appreciate the opportunities you have as a female athlete…. And be part of a classy program.  Seniors, it’s always mixed feelings for you; good luck in your future!  Returners, leave a good legacy – I wish you the best of luck in your 2018 season.”

That being said, IHS’ coaches stepped to the stage one at a time to announce their respective squads’ best.  C-team ‘Red’ head coach John Saucedo named freshman Aleah Abeyta as his Player-of-the-Year, freshman Jerrika Rarick-Valenzuela as his Most Valuable Player and freshman Noelle Sitton as his Coaches’ Award recipient.

C-team ‘Black’ boss Shasta Pontine named freshman Kaylee Egger as her Player-of-the-Year, junior Fernanda Tavares as MVP and freshman Karley Pollock as her Coaches’ Award choice.

Having noted earlier in the evening that 43 young ladies in all had come out for the sport at IHS this fall, junior-varsity head coach Katrina Richards’ awards went to sophomore Larissa Gallegos (POY), junior Izabella Howe (MVP) and senior Gabrianna Creason (Coaches’).

Finally, varsity head coach Thad Cano named his roster’s best, with senior Shoshone Thompson (263 assists, 126 digs, 57 service aces, 41 kills) receiving Player-of-the-Year.  Sophomore Makayla Howell (114 kills, 75 total blocks, 177 digs, 31 assists) earned Most Valuable Player, and both senior team manager Trina Gearhart and freshman Charlize Valdez (46 kills, 69 digs) received the Coaches’ Award.

Players receiving All-San Juan Basin League status (and/or additional awards) will be recognized in the next Drum; the list had not yet been made available by press time for the Dec. 8 issue.

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