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Apr. 5—Pueblo West High School’s Taylor Skoglund has been working with head coach Casey King for nearly a decade.

A combination of an unusual offseason and King’s guidance have taught the senior athlete what you get on the court is what you put into it.

Skoglund is an outside hitter for the Cyclones’ girls volleyball team, and for only standing at 5-foot-8, she is statistically one of its most consistent offensive players.

“People underestimate her because she’s not that prototypical giant outside hitter,” King said. “She’s got a huge vertical, she’s super strong, and she’s just a leader by the way she plays.”

With 69 kills, an average of three per set, Skoglund said her success comes from knowledge of the game and the amount of work she puts into the game.

“It’s about smarts,” Skoglund said. “Being court smart, being more aware of everything, and then because we are one of the smaller teams, we have to be smarter and faster than a lot of the bigger teams we see in 5A.”

Even when the Cyclones are playing a 4A team, like Pueblo East Tuesday night, a goal for the team is to keep a mentality of being fast and knowledgeable on the court.

But that doesn’t mean the team isn’t still looking for improvement.

“I’m happy where we’re at,” King said. “We still have a lot of errors, sometimes forced by (the Eagles’) really good defense. We just expected to kill, and they dug it up and kept bringing it back and that’s (Pueblo East head coach Michelle Lambayan.) She does an awesome job teaching them to play the right way, so we’ve got to continue working on finishing.”

Finding consistency and having runs of five or six kills without an error and blocking are the primary areas King said he hopes to see improvement in the remaining seven games of the season.

“Number one is blocking because we’re going to be facing big girls, especially when we get out of the S-CL,” King said. “Hopefully we can make it into the playoffs. We still have some really big hitters in the S-CL we have to contend with, so blocking is number one.”

But with a 6-1 overall record and a 4-0 South-Central League record, King and Skoglund both noted they are happy with the Cyclones’ adjustment to a shortened offseason.

“Usually, we have multiple tournaments and camps to go to and figure out lineups,” Skoglund said. “But we had four practices before our first game (this season.) So, (those four practices) were really high speed and engaging where we had to implement things that would come into play later. But it’s nice being successful in doing that, to have everyone working so hard, and putting in as much effort as they can.”

But the relationship Skoglund has developed with her coach over the years is something she said she feels grateful for in her final high school season.

“(King) started me out playing volleyball when I was seven or eight,” Skoglund said. “Now he’s going to be my senior coach. So, it’s fun to have him through my developing stages and then him helping me through college recruiting. It’s great starting and ending with the same coach because of the consistency. Both of us have grown in the process.”

Chieftain and Pueblo West View reporter Alexis Smith can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @smith_alexis27.