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Fall '21: Netters due for improvement

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
'Stangs volleyball has returning experience and is eager to play more matches within its class.
(Second in a series of Mustangs previews for Fall 2021.)

As much as any other Mullen team, Mustangs volleyball players are quite glad the 2020 season is behind them.

As a Class 4A team competing in the 5A Centennial League, the new Season D ended just four months ago, the Mustangs played only 5A opponents, never got to play any other team in their class and had virtually no chance to advance to the shortened postseason. To drive the point home, they were 38th in 4A RPI at the end of the regular season and, as pointed out by head coach Jeff Oliver, zipped up to 14th by the time all playoffs had been completed because of the difficulty of their schedule.

So returning to a 23-match schedule as opposed to the past season’s 14 and playing 4A foes will be welcomed changes.

“That’s a big deal for us,” Oliver said. “Last year’s problem was the way the world worked out … the problem was we couldn’t play anyone out of our league.”

However, with the 4A-laced schedule in 2021 as well as returning most everyone but four seniors, Mullen appears poised to erase the past season’s 6-8 mark and return to challenging.

“I think it’s good the girls got experience last year and that should help us,” Oliver said.

Olivia Beckish, Lia Dino, Lydia Gammon, Maddy Karr, Sloane McCarter, Devon Moore and Anna Oancia figure to be some of Mullen’s top players. But the Mustangs will need help in the center.

“It could be pretty good for us,” Oliver said, “but our biggest question is who will play middle. We lost all of our middles and that’s the biggest change we have going on.”

Another sudden one may come Labor Day weekend, when the Mustangs are scheduled to have a tournament in Glenwood Springs. With I-70 being closed in the canyon and the Gov. Jared Polis asking for nine figures to help clear the debris from the burn scars and mudslides, their four-match schedule may be in doubt.

“There are questions about the roads getting us there,” Oliver said. “I mean, we’re excited to see how it all goes … having a broader mix will be great for us  as will playing more 4A teams.”