Evergreen's Claudia Dillon begins final chapter of stellar prep career

Evergreen senior Claudia Dillon (second from the left) is hoping to guide the Cougars back to the Class 4A state tournament. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

EVERGREEN — Claudia Dillon has been a focal point for Evergreen’s volleyball and girls basketball programs since she walked through the doors three years ago at Evergreen High School.

The now 6-foot-2 multi-sport athlete burst onto the scene in the fall of 2015. Dillon helped the Cougars’ volleyball program to a surprising run into the Class 4A state semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Cheyenne Mountain.

“It does seem like a long time ago,” Dillon said of her first taste of a deep postseason run. “It shaped my (prep career) a lot. It doesn’t happen to many freshmen to go that far in two sports. It says a lot about this school and the programs we have.”

Dillon was a big part of Evergreen’s girls basketball run to its first 4A state title game in 2016. After losing to Valor Christian in the championship game, the Cougars responded by winning back-to-back 4A state titles in 2017 and 2018.

Claudia Dillon is set to play volleyball at the University of Missouri next year. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

While the team success has been on the basketball court, Dillon has committed to the University of Missouri during her junior year where she will play volleyball. With her collegiate decision made, one of the best two-sport athletes in the state can focus on finishing off her volleyball and basketball careers the right way.

“We have a pretty good shot,” said Dillon, who led the team in kills (351) and aces (59) last season. “I’m really excited about these girls, our new coach to see what we can do and how far we can go.”

Evergreen’s new coach is Gail Andrews. She grew up in Ohio and played collegiately at Gannon University in Pennsylvania. Andrews most recently coached a club team in the Houston area before moving to Colorado.

Andrews said she is really looking forward to the growth of the program in the future while starting her first year having the luxury with eight seniors and a handful of experienced juniors.

“They have been playing together for a while, which is good. I’m excited for this year,” said Andrews, who added Evergreen’s rich volleyball history of winning nine volleyball state titles from 1976 to 1985 was a big draw. “I know they have a lot of expectations for themselves as individuals and as a team. There is a lot of heart and drive on this team.”

Gail Andrews takes over the helm of Evergreen's volleyball program. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Seniors Katie Hays and Molly Solis, along with juniors Gabby Clark and Hayley Dillon (Claudia’s younger sister) brings a solid base to surround one of the top outside hitters in the state that has already impressed her new coach.

“She (Claudia) is very dynamic as a player. She has a lot of diversity in what she can bring to the court,” Andrews said. “She brings a lot of leadership to this team. She pushes herself and others.”

Hayley made a name for herself on the volleyball court as a sophomore last season by leading the Cougars with 36 blocks. Evergreen’s sister tandem has clearly been a benefit on the volleyball and basketball court.

“It’s fun to play with her (Claudia). It’s good to push her a lot and she pushes me,” Hayley said. “I’ve learned a lot from her. She has taught me how to see things a lot more on the basketball court and volleyball court. She has taught me so much.”

Claudia wants to make her final prep career playing along side her sister and friends a memorable one. Evergreen’s season opener is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, against DSST: Byers

“It’s definitely an exciting thing to be competitive with her (Hayley), scream at her, congratulate her…all that fun stuff siblings do,” Claudia said. “I’ll definitely miss it once I leave. It will be something I’ll cherish.”

Evergreen junior Hayley Dillon serves it up during the first week of practice. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)