DOUGLAS — Douglas High School’s volleyball team wrapped up its abbreviated season Nov. 4 with a 3-2 loss to Walden Grove, the second place team in the region.
Walden Grove had beaten Douglas in three straight games several weeks earlier in Sahuarita.
In the rematch in Douglas, Walden Grove won the first game 25-22. Douglas took the second game 25-23; Walden Grove bounced back to win game three 26-24 and the Bulldogs won game four 26-24. In the fifth and deciding game, Douglas had a 7-2 and a 8-4 lead before Walden Grove responded with a rally to win the final game 15-11 to take the match 3-2.
The match with Walden Grove was Douglas’ third in a three day stretch. In the two previous matches earlier that week the Bulldogs were beaten by Sahuarita and Empire 3-0.
Douglas and its new head coach Ashley Ellis end the year 2-9 overall, 2-6 in region play. Both wins came against Rio Rico on back-to-back nights.
Looking back on her first year as head coach at DHS, Ellis admits it was a pretty wild season for everyone.
“I think many coaches felt like first year coaches this year,” she said. “Without a preseason, it was definitely a quick jump to a short four week season. It was great to see some familiar coaches and refs and to know I wasn’t alone in feeling like this season was crazy.
“We formed our teams before we were able to even see the girls play in any game style drills. Being a brand new coach to the program — this was a bit of a disadvantage. Luckily our program was not severely impacted by illnesses but we did have smaller numbers due to lack of students on campus.”
The first year coach said it was extremely gratifying seeing her team play as well as they did against Walden Grove
“It was great to finally see the girls pull it all together and play like a team,” Ellis said. “They really played up their potential in that last match. It felt good to end the season with that great positive energy filling up the gym.”
The coach added her two assistant coaches Dave Docto and Maria Trinta did an amazing job with the freshman and junior varsity squads.
“Our JV and freshman squads rocked it this season,” Ellis said. “JV really focused on the fundamentals and building a team that could volley at a high level. There are quite a few ladies on that squad who will be big impact players for us next year. Additionally, the freshman team went 12- 1 this year. That is an amazing record when you consider the strong programs they were up against. Their future is bright and I look forward to the offseason and future years with them.”
Ellis believes she was able to create some solid relationships with her players that will help both her and the team as they get ready for next year.
“Building relationships with players and being able to positively impact them is the whole reason I am a coach,” she said. “Again, our season was short but we spent a lot of hours together in four weeks of competition and relationships were definitely built on a one on one level.”
With the offseason now here the coach said she is looking forward to having a full year, instead of just a few weeks, to prepare.
“I would like to start off season as early as January,” she said. “I need to refresh my memory on offseason bylaws and get any activities cleared through our athletic director and superintendent before anything is set in stone. I look forward to continuing to develop a powerhouse program and help to revive volleyball in far southern Arizona.”