“I’m impressed with how much skills have improved”
By Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Titans volleyball team closed out the 2023 season at home against Gunnison on Thursday, October 26 falling to the Cowboys in straight sets 25-8, 25-18, 25-7.
It was the second time the Titans faced the Cowboys this year with the Titans still rebuilding and the Cowboys surging, closing out their season 20-3, ranked 14th in the state in 3A.
“Overall, we started out intimidated but competed harder toward the end of the first set and into the second set,” says coach Marla Covey. “We just told them have fun hitting, go down swinging.”
Mandala Covey-Bleiberg led the team with five kills in the match while Elise Hanna racked up seven digs and 12 assists.
When the sister coaching duo of Marla and Sheri Covey took over last season, the team was coming off a 3-20 season. Last year, they improved to 6-17 and this year they finished 10-13.
“Four more wins are four more wins,” says Marla. “I think our skill level has come up so we’re able to play harder. I’m impressed with how much skills have improved.”
And while skills are one of the tenets for success, volleyball is a sport of momentum and the mental game can wear teams down. That was the case last season and at the beginning of this year but as the season progressed, the Titans got tougher.
“The last month of the season we stayed positive, didn’t give up in games and that’s a big step forward and something we can build on next year,” says Marla.
Speaking of next year, things are looking good for the Titans’ volleyball program as they will be losing just one player to graduation.
“We’re losing Annie Collins and that’s a big loss, but we have some height coming up behind her,” says Marla. “A lot of our young players saw some good volleyball this year and they want to be a part of it.”
But it all boils down to work outside of the season. Many of the programs the Titans play have established club programs in place. The Gunnison Valley has one as well and it is gaining momentum; Marla believes her players are starting to see that off-season play has a big impact during the regular season.
“The girls seem willing to do anything to improve in the off-season which is huge for us,” says Marla. “We want more wins and they have the talent to do it.”