After four years as a starter for the Durango volleyball team, senior middle blocker Sarah Somrak was named Southwestern League Player of the Year after helping to lead the Demons to a 15-10 record.
Somrak, a senior, was second on the team in kills with 137 behind sophomore outside hitter Hadyn Neiman, who had 141. Somrak was also second on the team in kill percentage at 36.1%, only behind freshman middle blocker Natalie Deming, who had a 37.4% kill percentage. Somrak also had a team-high 68 blocks, which was 12th in the state in Class 4A.
“She was rewarded for player of the year by these other coaches,” Demons coach Kelley Rifilato said. “All I get to do is nominate them, and then I have to sit back and wait to see what the other coaches vote. It was interesting because we were on the bus coming back from Palisade when they called me and told me that she had gotten player of the year. I was super excited for her because she's put in a lot of time at volleyball and she's improved so much from the beginning.”
Rifilato said when Somrak started playing her freshman year, she didn’t have much experience but was blessed with great jumping ability and athleticism that she’s also used in soccer. Rifilato also credited former players who took Somrak under their wing to mentor her as she learned the game at the beginning of her career.
Durango senior libero/outside hitter Brooklyn Messier also made first team all-conference. She and junior defensive specialist Tyler Trujillo were tied for a team-high 307 digs. Messier also had a team-high 32 serving aces.
“I'm thankful that the league recognized what a huge role she had on her team,” Rifilato said. “She was so selfless in kind of vacating the libero position for the better of the team so that she could play outside and she did that last summer.”
Rifilato also said Messier helped fill the void at outside hitter when senior Aava Dreger was sidelined for two weeks with an ankle injury.
“I think there are a lot of kids who can’t handle that mentally and she was able to step up and handle playing multiple positions,” Rifilato said.
Dreger and junior setter Eva Stewart also made second-team all-conference. Stewart led the team with 544 assists, which was ranked 15th overall in Class 4A, and was the second-leading player in aces with 31.
Rifilato was happy Dreger was recognized by other coaches despite missing numerous matches during league play.
“I think the coaches realized after watching film and stuff that we were definitely not the same without her,” Rifilato said of Dreger. “She was such a big leader and just a go-to person on the court.”