DHS volleyball sweeps yet another awards season

Joel Priest/Pine River Times file photo

Robin Oliger led Durango to its third consecutive state volleyball tournament and earned her third Southwestern League Coach of the Year award in a row as well, sharing the honor with bob Richardson of Fruita Monument.

By Ryan Owens Herald staff writer

Another year, another awards sweep for Durango High School volleyball.

And one final shared accomplishment for the Demons’ “key three.”

Setter Natale Bulen followed Sloan Lovett’s back-to-back selections as Durango’s third consecutive Southwestern League Player of the Year, and Robin Oliger won her third consecutive Coach of the Year award, this time sharing it with Bob Richardson of Fruita Monument, with whom Durango shared the SWL crown.

Libero Kennedy Clark and outside hitter McKenna Franzen joined Bulen on the All-SWL first team, as the three core seniors for the Demons all took a step up after landing on the second team a season ago.

Bulen earned the nod with a dominating performance statistically in 2012. She led the SWL with an average of 9.9 assists per set, 2.5 more per frame more than her closest competition, Laurel Chappell of Montezuma-Cortez. The senior had 704 assists in all while turning in 191 digs, 29 blocks and 54 kills.

“I was a bit shocked at first, but, I don’t know, it was all these four years kind of put into one, and it was an exciting moment. ... It’s a huge honor, and I’m really happy,” said Bulen, daughter of David and Janine Bulen.

Oliger couldn’t recall exactly how many times she’s been tabbed the league’s top coach, but as she usually does after major accomplishments of an individual nature, she deflected the attention to her players.

“I don’t really keep track, to be honest. It’s a reflection of these guys, actually. They made my job a lot easier this year,” Oliger said.

Clark racked up 336 digs, averaging 4.7 per set – good for fifth in the league. Her numbers may have been better, but with an offense that runs as well as the Demons’ usually does, opportunities for digs are limited.

“It’s been lots of fun. It’s been crazy, but it’s been awesome,” said Clark, daughter of Letty and Randy Clark.

Franzen, meanwhile, led the league with 3.9 kills per set and was fourth with a .220 attack percentage. She had 279 kills total to go with 47 blocks and 236 digs.

Bulen recently was named MaxPreps Player of the Week for Colorado for the week of Oct. 29, and she and Franzen, a Metro State commit, recently played in the Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports All-State Game. Clark, meanwhile, signed on to play collegiate volleyball at Fort Lewis College.

All this following the program’s third-consecutive league title and regional title and third trip to state in a row. Not a bad way to end a career.

“To proceed with this year all together and to be the three captains and the leaders of the team and all of us make all-conference just really cemented how close we were and how great we were playing together,” Bulen said.

“Ditto,” Clark said with a smile.

rowens@durangoherald.com

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