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Once more, Castle Rock’s volleyball team can call itself a district champion.

The Rockets beat Trico 1A rival La Center 25-16, 22-25, 16-26, 25-16, 15-8 in the Southwest 1A District championship at Lebaron Court on Saturday.

“Our goal was to come out on fire and stay on fire,” coach Jeana Bayes said. “We just needed to put the ball where we needed to in order to finish that last set.”

The Rockets dominated in the first set, jumping out to a 7-0 lead before La Center went on a minor run. The second set began in the inverse — La Center started hot with a 6-0 lead but the Rockets made it a game, the score tied at 12 midway through the set.

The difference?

Rockets senior Zoe Naugle checked in the match and provided a big presence at the net, forcing the Wildcats away from front-row hitting. The early deficit was ultimately too much for the Rockets to win the set, as scoring slowed dramatically for Castle Rock after its 18th point.

“Zoe is irreplaceable,” Bayes said. “She’s a role model and key player that we can rely on.”

Of course there were others making a difference.

Naugle finished with 22 kills and nine blocks. Logann Golden tallied 13 kills with 24 digs, Sunshine Watkins added 10 kills and nine digs, while Jordyn Burks had five blocks. Ranae Holter chipped in 45 assists while Rachel Anderson had 22 digs.

It was a good thing for a match to last five sets just before state, which begins Friday.

“Especially for our underclassmen who haven’t had a lot of experience with five sets,” Bayes said. “Being in those games, being able to last and push through. More importantly, being able to start on top and then have a little wiggle room to make a mistake here or there. It was a vast improvement.”

It’s the Rockets’ second straight district championship, and they’ll be making their third straight state appearance. They finished sixth last year.

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