Margie Beeler claims Player of the Year honors in the Columbia Basin Confernce
A true team effort saw the Culver volleyball team finish second at the 2A state tournament this season. It made sense that half of the Bulldogs' 12 girls on their roster qualified for the Columbia Basin Conference all-league team.
At the top of that team was senior setter Margie Beeler, who has named the CBC's Player of the Year after playing a huge part in the Bulldogs' 26-3 overall and 7-1 league record.
Irma Retano joined Beeler on the first team, and was the runner-up in POY voting, according to Culver assistant coach Nick Viggiano. The Bulldogs' big hitters in the middle, Catylynn Duff and Maddie Miller, both made the CBC second team. In addition, Claire Bender and Bridget Lopez were named honorable mentions.
For Beeler, it marked the fourth straight year of Beeler's high school career that she was named first team, all league, and the seventh straight year a Bulldog player has earned a POY award, spanning their time in both the CBC and Tri-River Conference.
Beeler got an opportunity for playing time early into her freshman season after the then-assumed starting setter quit the team just weeks before the season began. When she stepped in, the rest was history. She orchestrated Culver's attack with poise, and her senior year was much of the same, as she accounted for 938 assists of a team total 969.
Head coach Randi Viggiano challenged Beeler to play a bigger defensive role this season, and she responded with 180 digs, which was third most on the team, as well as 6.5 blocks. Beeler also tallied 38 kills and a team-high 117 aces.
Retano immediately made her presence known after missing the first two weeks of the season while on vacation. The first match of her junior year, Culver defeated eventual 2A champion Grant Union 3-2 on its home court, which ignited a 14-match winning streak for the Bulldogs.
Her versatility as an outside hitter and defensive presence elevated Culver's play whenever she was in the rotation. Retano's 284 kills were the most among the team, and she also added 273 digs and 73 aces.
Culver coaches were somewhat surprised that Duff and Miller were left off the first team, but they proved to be among the best in the CBC with their play during the postseason.
Duff, a senior, played one of her finest stretches of the season at the 2A state tournament, which earned her a spot on the all-tournament second team in addition to being named Player of the Match in the title showdown against Grant Union.
Duff finished the season with 257 kills on 468 attempts, second only to Retano, while also tallying 25.5 blocks, a team high, and serving across 42 aces.
Miller, the unassuming junior, was a force for the Bulldogs during a season in which she recorded 231 kills, 18.5 blocks, 24 digs and 27 aces. She also committed the fewest service errors (17) among Culver players who attempted at least 100 serves.
Lopez stepped into the Bulldogs' vacant libero role entering her sophomore season, and she excelled from the start. Providing speed and stability on the Culver back line, Lopez recorded a team-high 314 digs. She also landed 39 aces and 10 kills.
Bender was the lone Culver freshman to make varsity, but quickly proved she belonged. The Bulldogs typically see one incoming freshman who, as Randi Viggiano described, is "a cut above the rest." This year, that player was Bender.
She became a hitting machine for Culver, ending the season with 164 kills on 452 attempts, while also adding 104 digs, 26 aces and four blocks.
Culver also had a team GPA of 3.76, which was sixth best among 2A volleyball teams.