Everything is new for MHS volleyball in 2021

The cooler fall weather brings changes in Monticello High School volleyball, beginning with new coaches. New head coach Kelli Keyes is a Monticello native who returns home after teaching and coaching at San Juan High.

Keyes coached the Broncos for three years and has attended multiple clinics and trainings to keep up with the ever-changing game of volleyball. Erin Barry is the Lady Bucks’ assistant coach bringing personal experience and knowledge from playing and coaching younger girls for years.

Keyes inherits the new team from coach Tony Esplin who retired last year. The 2020 MHS squad was hampered by injuries and unable to participate at the state tournament last year as COVID-19 protocols left them serving quarantine during that week.

With a fresh new coach and injured players rehabbed, Coach Keyes says the team is shaping up to be very dynamic and strong.

The girls have worked hard in the offseason, hitting the weight room and watching their nutrition and will continue to do so.

“There are some strong young ones coming up. The main girls that come to mind are Taylor and Hannah Barry. These girls are constantly touching a volleyball and have a lot of determination. Don’t let their size fool ya!” Keyes said.

When asked about seniors, leadership and positions, Keyes said all the seniors are great in their own roles and provide contagious energy for the team.

Senior players this year include Athea Ford, Taylor Lewis, Kylie Rogers, Jessica Slack, and Saydi Young.

“As far as positions, that’s still a work in progress,” said Keyes. “We don’t have everyone set in a position this early in the season, especially where we are still new to coaching them.

“The leaders of the team I foresee are the seniors, especially Jessi Slack and whoever the libero will be,” she continued. “The libero is the most difficult position on the court, so that position must be a leader on the team.”

Keyes explained the strength of this team is in being relentless. Their goal this year is to be “fierce to the end.” Areas needing work are trusting each other and being team players.

“Once the girls learn to trust the coaches, themselves, and each other, all of our hard work should start to fall into place,” stated Keyes.

She said the ultimate goal is always a state championship. She will start by building a successful program this, her first year at MHS.

When asked about her competition, Coach Keyes said she has looked at the results from last year and what players are returning, but her focus is on the Lady Buckaroos.

She is grateful for her assistant. “Erin is hardworking, patient, talented at the game, and most importantly has a good sense of humor,” said Keyes. “A head coach is nothing without a great assistant.” Keyes also said she’s excited about the upcoming season and to be able to coach “these incredible girls.”

The Lady Bucks’ first match is this Friday, August 20 against the Dolores Bulldogs at home at 3:15 p.m. We’re excited to follow their progress this season.

San Juan Record

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