MONTICELLO — Whether it's in the classroom or on the volleyball court, Devin Dalton only knows how to participate one way: with her best effort.
She works so hard that early in her high school career, it created a little friction between the senior setter and some of her teammates.
"She had a tendency to expect the other kids to work as hard as she did," said Monticello coach Tony Esplin. But instead of trying to encourage them vocally, coaches asked Dalton to simply lead by example.
She followed their lead, and it worked.
As the Buckaroos starting setter, the team earned back-to-back 1A state volleyball titles.
"She's very self motivated," Esplin said. "She's been participating in a program to improve her vertical jump and it requires weight lifting the last two summers. She's been very dedicated to that program. She's definitely the hardest worker on our team. In fact, she probably works twice as hard as the next player."
Her commitment was a trait her teammates come to admire and an example the chose to follow. In turn, the Buckaroos have managed to win two titles at a time when 1A volleyball is deeper and more competitive than ever.
Dalton's athleticism and versatility allowed the Buckaroos to try some new offensive tactics.
"When she came on board, and we started going to one setter, we went to a quicker game, and we had to have a setter who could make a decision about where the ball needed to go," he said. "It would have been tough for us to beat some of the teams we did if we didn't have her setting abilities."
Dalton's court sense and speed helped her maximize the talent of her teammates.
"She's made it so much better for the kids, just by her choices of where to put the ball," he said.
"She can jump really well," Esplin said. "She's a really good blocker, and athletically, she was just able to set the ball where ever we needed it. She made really good decisions, and being left-handed, she caught a lot of teams off guard by also being able to hit. She was probably one of our better hitters, but we had to have her set."
Dalton's drive to succeed isn't something she leaves in the gym. Her hard work in the classroom paid off when she was named a 1A Academic All-State winner before the championship match.
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