Net games have always been sports of choice for Christine and Caroline Schmiedeler, Fairview High juniors who just happen to be twin sisters, best friends and feisty athletes.
At some point during fourth grade, they both decided they just didn't like using tennis rackets. While older sister Jacqueline Schmiedeler mastered tennis pretty well for the Knights, Caroline and Christine thought volleyball might be in their future instead.
They've dominated sand pits and hard courts ever since, and there's rarely a time when volleyball isn't part of the daily routine.
"Having someone there that's so close in skill level and so passionate about the sport, that's where we've grown together," Caroline Schmiedeler said recently. "It's the best going outside and peppering for literally hours with her."
Interestingly, they'll be taking the courts at the Denver Coliseum for Fairview's run at the Class 5A state championship as opposite pin hitters. Caroline plays outside, while Christine switched this year to mostly right side after being a middle last season.
That's about where the opposites end in this conversation.
The twins are the proverbial inseparable pair, with the exception of a few school-time classes. Christine may be a little more animated on the court, but Caroline said she's been working on that, too.
They enjoy art and painting, aren't too often far away from teammate Audrey Cheng (the "bestie"), and they are each other's biggest supporter.
"I feel like I get more excited for Caroline when she does something than I do for myself, and vice versa," said Christine Schmiedeler, who has 170 kills and a .321 hitting percentage this season. "We just know a lot about what each other is going to do, we know what to say to each other to pump us up. She's always there for me no matter what happens."
"They're just delightful girls in general ... but they hold each other to a high standard," added Fairview coach Kelsey Spencer, who has known the girls since their freshman year. "They help each other stay positive. They have that sister relationship to where they're not afraid to push each other. They do keep it professional in terms of what we're doing, but they also care so much about each other."
Though they consider themselves partners for the Knights, being on opposite sides of the court doesn't exactly put them in position to work in unison with each other.
But through beach volleyball — yes, there is a beach volleyball scene here in the state — they've found a way to be able to feed off each other's every move.
Since the start of high school, they've been hitting the sand in two-on-two beach leagues. In 2013 and 2014 they participated in a couple of USA Volleyball junior national events, finishing rather well in Milwaukee in 2013 and Hermosa Beach in 2014.
They weren't able to compete in those events this past summer, but they do challenge themselves by competing in local women's divisions. It's also something they see themselves doing during their college years and beyond.
"Being outdoors, just the two of us playing our hearts out, it's an amazing experience that we've bonded over," Caroline, the team's leader with 248 kills, said. "Sand volleyball is a ton of hard work and you have to be committed to it. It's easier when we can do it together."
As for how the end of this junior season turns out with FHS, there's a lot of hope among both of them the Knights can get out of pool play Friday and make something happen Saturday. Last year's caught-in-the-spotlight act forced the Knights out early, but the Schmiedelers feel they are more prepared this time around.
"We kind of forgot the reason why we were there last year; this year, we've grown so much and want (a state title) more than anything," Christine said. "I think that really showed at regionals, so I'm really excited to see what we can bring against (No. 1 seed) Chatfield."