by Scott Boyle
The Monticello Lady Buckaroos begin their 2013 volleyball season in familiar fashion, attempting to defend a 1A state championship for the third year in a row.
Long-time Buckaroo head coach Tony Esplin lost some key players from last year’s championship team. They were instrumental in the state win, not only in skills but leadership and attitude. The graduates include Jessica Ewart, Shaylyn Black, Stevee Wilcox, and Devin Dalton. Dalton and Black completed their careers as two year all-staters, and Dalton was named the 1A Most Valuable Player. Both Ewart and Wilcox made all-state teams.
It is hard to replace that kind of experience and firepower, but Esplin finds himself with a young and talented bunch, some with varsity experience. Indeed, the Lady Bucks will take to the court in 2013 with only one returning senior and two returning starters.
Esplin, in his 23rd year at the helm for the Lady Buckaroos, along with long time assistants Kara Boyd (eighth year) and Sheila Wells (sixth year), has brought the kind of consistency to a program that leads to two state championships. So this year, the Buckaroos seemingly need to rebuild, but in reality, the hope to reload, to coin a phrase or two.
“We have a young team this year with strong freshman and sophomore classes supporting some good juniors,” said Boyd. “We have only one returning senior, Aapree Sheeran, an off hand-hitter.
Junior Shania DeAnda will return in her starting position as an outside hitter. Sophomore Ashley Ewart will also return as a middle blocker.
“Joining this experienced bunch will be sophomore Loren Nielson as our setter, sophomore Averi Christiansen as a middle blocker, freshman Izabell Slade as an outside hitter, junior Mary Beh as off-hand hitter, sophomore Tiara Cordasco as a defensive specialist, and sophomore Molly Anderson as the libero.
“Supporting players include sophomores Lashay Lewis, Kari Schmidt and Lucia Regalado, and freshmen Allie Maughan, Marci McDougall, Tawna Wells, Atlanta Black, Shelby Fullmer and newcomer Micheala Wolford.
“We look to be very competitive this year, despite having some young players,” continues Boyd. “We may look short but hopefully make up for it in speed. The girls have set some high goals this year but are focusing on the spirit of volleyball such as having fun, staying together as a team, each player doing her best and supporting her teammates.
The 2013 season began in St. George last weekend with a victory over San Juan in two games. Each match was best two out of three.
The Lady Buckaroos also triumphed over Carbon (3A) and Grantsville (3A) before losing a very close matches to Dixie (3A), Juan Diego (3A) and Herriman (5A). This put them in the Platinum Championship tournament where the top eight teams (out of about 50) of the tournament played.
“We played a tough match against Union (3A) with some excellent play by both teams,” said Boyd, “but unfortunately, we lost to them.
“The girls played very well and we heard around the gym that Monticello is a scrappy, energetic team. We are happy with the play, and look forward to improving as the season goes on.”
Boyd also talked about the Buckaroo JV team. “The JV team did very well, playing in the Championship game of the silver division. They took second to Union (3A) after a volleyball extravaganza match with long rallies and amazing plays by both teams. Even the officials were rightly impressed with the level of play. It was a challenging, yet encouraging week.”
The Buckaroo football team began their 2013 season in fine style with a 68-0 win over the Whitehorse Raiders on a beautiful August 23 evening in Montezuma Creek.
After giving up a quarterback sack on the first offensive play of the night, the Bucks opened the flood gates, scoring the first nine times they had the ball to a 55-0 halftime lead.
Austin Maloy scored the first TD of the year on a one-yard dive four minutes into the game after a nice 36-yard run by Cole Eldredge set up the Buckaroos near the goal line.
Then the Bucks scored on an 18-yard pass from Maloy to brother McKade Maloy, a 70-yard run by Eldredge, and a 37-yard pass from Maloy to Austin Wilcox, who rumbled over a few folks on his way to the endzone.
This gave the Bucks a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. In the second stanza, Dillon Maughan added a 50-yard run. Other scores are on two-yard run by Jake Giles, a three-yarder by Eric Anderson, and a 32-yard dash by Andrew Torres.
Maloy added all but one of the extra point tries with his foot and it was 55-0 at half. With the mercy rule in effect the second half, they scored on a 70-yard run by Hunter Bowring and another Austin Maloy score and the Bucks had their first win of the year.
Monticello now leads the series with Whitehorse 23-1. Yep, Whitehorse defeated the Bucks 24-7 in 1984. Whitehorse has a 7-97 record against Utah varsity teams outside of Monument Valley.
The Raiders seven wins came against: Altamont (1988 and 1989), East Carbon (1984), Green River (1980), Monticello (1984), North Sevier (1984) and South Summit (1983).
However, next up for the Bucks will be a visit to the San Juan corral, where the Broncos could be in the mood for some serious bucking, kicking and jolting. The Broncos will be chomping at the bit a bit after they were shut out by Snow Canyon 21-0, the first time San Juan has been scoreless since 1999. The Bronco streak was the longest current streak in the state and the second longest in state history.
Game time is Friday at 7 p.m. in Blanding. Be there or be square.