PLAYERS TO KNOW
Macy Bourn, Sr., Mead: Effective anywhere on the court, Bourn could help lead the Mavericks to a third straight state tourney bid.
Kylen Christiansen, So., Lyons: Played a big role as a freshman and will be asked to do a lot of everything as the Lions look for third state bid in four years.
Audrey Cheng, Sr., Fairview: Columbia commit has continued to work on deception in the set, not passing up second-hit kill opportunities either.
Mackenzie Fidelak, Jr., Niwot: Cougars' main threat at the net has hit .336 and .366 her first two years with 200 kills each season.
Jody Gallagher, Jr., Holy Family: Will team up with Julia Giltner to pose one of the Tri-Valley's best blocking combos.
Mya Michaelson, Jr., Erie: Tigers asked Michaelson to attack from the middle a lot, and she responded with 215 kills and a .398 hitting percentage.
Caroline and Christine Schmiedeler, Srs., Fairview: Often stationed at opposite pins, there is little separation between talented front line players.
Olivia Storaci, Sr., Longmont: Trojans' dynamic play will hinge on players like Storaci embracing full time roles.
McKenna Webster, Sr., Silver Creek: Another area Division I setter who will be a key in the Raptors' pursuit of another state tournament appearance.
Kailee Yano, Sr., Peak to Peak: The senior has a rare ability at the 3A level to hit, block, defend and set when called upon.
For the first time, RPI will be used in volleyball to help determine playoff fields for all classifications after the regular season is completed (1A/2A complete by Oct. 22; 3A/4A/5A season complete by Oct. 29). Teams will work through district and regional tournaments by Nov. 5, and the state tournament will be held at the Denver Coliseum on Nov. 11-12.
Coach: Kyle Rhatigan (Third year)
Last year: 13-12 overall; 7-5 Class 5A Front Range League
Returning starters: Hannah Bagley (Jr., OH); Emma Chow (Sr., S); Jean Cutter (Sr., OH/RS); Nicole Williams (Jr., MB).
Others to watch: Leah Fattor (Sr., L); Kailey Reagan (Jr., OH); Cassie Stoffer (Jr., MB).
Outlook: The Panthers have a good core of returners to build behind, and it's just a matter of how quickly those other positions develop as to how successful BHS can be in the Front Range League. Chow is an Ivy League commit and the other three returners are dedicated to the sport year round. Cutter will play a little on the right but will switch to more of a full time outside hitter's role.
Coach: Lysa Johnson (First year)
Last year: 9-14 overall; 3-9 Class 5A Front Range League
Returning starters: Kim Bower (Sr., S/RS); Shaela Burkert (Jr., MB); Nicole Gonzales (Jr., OH); Abby Major (Jr., RS).
Others to watch: Kristina Consbruck (Fr., S/DS/L); Vicki Fankell (Fr., OH); Amber Pethick (Sr., MB); Madi Rademacher (Sr., S).
Outlook: The Eagles hope to be in for the long haul on the courts this season with some changes at the top. Rademacher missed last year because of injury and Pethick also did not play, giving BHS a couple of girls to help fill in some gaps. They should be tough on the blocks, with Major and Burkert leading the charge.
Coach: Kacey Koonce (Second year)
Last year: 10-12 overall; 4-6 Class 3A Metro League
Returning starters: Laila Buchler (Jr., L/DS); Alexa Ferry (Jr., L/RS); Kelsey Koonce (Sr., MB/RS); Cyndee Morgan (Sr., MB/OH); Lexi Nissen (Jr., DS); Emilee Scates (Sr., S).
Others to watch: Kjerstin Bedford (Jr., L/RS); Skylar Riley (Sr., MB); Megan Schultz (Fr., OH); Margaret Welch (Sr., RS).
Outlook: There are a ton of upperclassmen on the team plus a mix of freshmen coming in that should stabilize things in the move up to the 4A Northern League. Coach Koonce said the team is going to have fun but there is more of a business approach in her second year, as well, with expectations raised a bit higher because of the experience the team brings. A 6-2 system is possible but right now Scates appears to be playing well in a 5-1 set.
Coach: Carisa Janzen (First year)
Last year: 7-13 overall; 3-9 Class 2A Mile High League
Returning starters: Liv Cramer (Jr.,OH); Stella Bristol (So., OH); Sarah Leidich (Sr., MB); Elizabeth Porrey (Jr., OH); Delaney Pratt (Jr., S/RS).
Others to watch: Kelley Huwaldt (Jr., DS/RS); Nicole McDonald (Sr., OH/DS/RS); Kiki Porrey (Fr., S/RS); Victoria Rackley (Sr., DS/L); Skylar Shutter (Sr., RS/MB).
Outlook: Janzen is a Niwot native who was recently an assistant coach at Denver East, and there is a lot of excitement in taking over the Mustangs program. It is one that has plenty of returning pieces but will still be looking to build chemistry as the season progresses in a different system. Many positions are still up in the air but will be configured by the season opener.
Coach: Russell Fox (Fourth year)
Last year: 16-10 overall; 7-7 Class 4A Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Darby Berringer (Sr., OH); Sydney Marler (Sr., RS); Mya Michaelson (Jr., MB); Rhi Mount (Sr., L); Cheyenne Rasmussen (Sr., DS); Megan Weigand (Sr., MB).
Others to watch: Megan Casillas (So., S); Sydney Crites (So., OH); Autymn Purcell (Jr., S/DS).
Outlook: The Tigers knocked on the door of a state tournament appearance last year and should be right there again in 2016 with this seasoned group. They may utilize two setters this year but there is no question in Fox's mind that Michaelson is a cornerstone kind of player. Hosting regionals is among the team's goals.
Coach: Kelsey Spencer (Second year)
Last year: 22-7 overall, 11-1 Class 5A Front Range League (state runner up)
Returning starters: Audrey Cheng (Sr., S); Haley Kilday (Sr., OH/RS); Meredith Pearl (Sr., MB); Caroline Schmiedeler (Sr., OH); Christine Schmiedeler (Sr., RS); Lauren Taeko Chase (Jr., DS/L).
Others to watch: Avaline Lai (Jr., MB/OH); Ellie Savage (Sr., MB); Izze Uvalle (Sr., OH); McKayla Vlasity (Sr., MB/RS).
Outlook: The Knights graduated a few high caliber players, but the core of their attack remains giving FHS a strong chance at a Front Range League title repeat. Cheng, the reigning BoCoPreps player of the year, could easily be one of the state's best players — she's arguably the most fun to watch, at least. With the front line in place, the only real question becomes the court coverage on the back end.
Coach: Matt Samson (Second year)
Last year: 5-18 overall; 1-13 Class 4A Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Isabella Baeza (Jr., DS); Averi Reveille (Sr., RS); Josi Reveille (So., S); Sidney Richard (Sr., L/RS); Paige Schaa (So., OH); Francie Shaffer (Sr., OH); Mylie Tarnowski (Jr., RS).
Others to watch: Bailey Baumgardner (So., MB); Alexis Krause (Jr., L).
Outlook: Samson is still in the midst of figuring out a few things, but the goal is to run a new defensive system that will transition to offense at a fast pace, which he said is necessary with the competition in the TVL. Shaffer is being given a chance to hit more on the outside versus the middle, and the Warriors will just be expected to continue and grind.
HOLY FAMILY TIGERS
Coach: Krista Solomon (Second year)
Last year: 22-5 overall; 12-2 Class 4A Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Willow Belenski (Sr., DS/L); Sara Berghoff (Jr., S/RS); Jody Gallagher (Jr., MB); Julia Giltner (Jr., MB); Ali Travis (So., OH).
Others to watch: Peyton Frank (Fr., DS/L); Rachel Siurek (Jr., RS).
Outlook: The Tigers are simply well-balanced and seem to be privy to both in-system and the scramble-type volleyball needed to succeed. The Tri-Valley League will continue to be a test, but the Tigers will be the targeted ones as they look for a repeat. Getting to state is an attainable goal, and there is motivation to show a lot better once they get there.
JEFFERSON ACADEMY JAGUARS
Coach: Kyle Tycksen (First year)
Last year: 8-16 overall; 4-6 Class 3A Metro League
Returning starters: Aracelli Chang (Sr., DS/S); Anna Coleman (Sr., DS); Molly Floyd (So., DS); Tanis Kohl (Jr., OH); Samantha Lewis (Sr., MB); Kaela O'Donnell (Jr., MB); Kelliann Raff (Sr., RS); Taylor Schwartz (Jr., S); Katie Thimsen (Jr., OH).
Others to watch: Rylie Reece (Jr., RS); Kayla Slusser (So., OH/RS).
Outlook: A group of nine returning players should help the Jaguars rebound from a down season, and Tycksen believes consistency will come with this team. Defense should be a strength, and Lewis and Kohl could prove to be a big combo up front, too.
Coach: Kerry Morgan (First year)
Last year: 11-14 overall; 7-5 Class 5A Front Range League
Returning starters: Simone Borelli, (Sr., S/RS); Taylor Hyatt (Jr., MB); Eme McBride (Jr., MB); Kylea Tallbear (Jr., OH); Kira Thomsen (So., OH).
Others to watch: Bailee Newham (So., MB); Emma Quarles (So., S).
Outlook: After starting 0-5 last year the Lightning got their act together to post a good league mark. Morgan expects the group to carry their experience into this season and play smart right from the get-go. Last year's top three hitters are back to work with Borelli making Legacy a darkhorse in the FRL.
Coach: Holli Stetson (12th year)
Last year: 22-5 overall; 12-0 Class 4A Northern League
Returning starters: Shiloh Berger (Sr., RS/OH); Rachel Kusbel (Jr., MB/OH); Mikayla Snyder (Jr., RS/DS); Olivia Storaci (Sr., S/OH); Jensen Walker (Sr., L/OH); Annika Wetterstrom (So., S/RS).
Others to watch: Kaitlyn Bridge (Jr., MB/RS); Eva D'Epagnier (Jr., MB/RS); Caroline Demostheness (Fr., OH/MH); Ellen Goodwin (So., DS/L); Trista Woelfle (Sr., RS/MB).
Outlook: There may be more uncertainty this year as to how everything is going to come together for LHS, but that's not for lack of talent; there's just a new crop of players who need to settle into more prominent roles. Stetson said she has high expectation of Storaci and Kusbel to carry the team through any growing pains, and Berger definitely knows how to slam home a winner. Someone will have to wrestle the Northern League title away from the Trojans.
LONGMONT CHRISTIAN WARRIORS
Coach: Rose Cantrell (First year)
Last year: 9-16 overall; 3-9 Class 1A Mile High League
Returning starters: Grace Gunlikson (Sr., S).
Others to watch: Audrey Gunlikson (So., MB/OH); Libby Knott (Sr. L); Brittany Lee (Jr., RS); Emma Moore (Jr., OH); Christina Oswald (So., OH/MB); Savannah Vrooman (So., MB); Heidi Willis (So., DS).
Outlook: Cantrell is a club coach who is venturing into high school coaching for the first time, and she said she would love nothing more than to get the Warriors into a good system that is going to control the game. The first priority is to get girls to recognize the importance of the service game, allowing the hitting techniques to grow on their own. Cantrell praised the efforts of the group so far.
Coach: Mason Johnson (Second year)
Last year: 23-5 overall; 10-2 Class 2A Mile High League
Returning starters: Kylen Christiansen (So., S); Ixchel Leeuwenburgh (Jr., MB); Maddi Maguire (Sr., S); Sarah Stevelinck (Jr., L).
Others to watch: Sarah Hall (Jr., RS/MB); Jayla Harding (So., OH); Addy Huber (Fr., MB); Caitlyn Kohler (Jr., DS); Taylor Maguire (Fr., OH); Adelle Walker (Jr., RS/MB).
Outlook: That sweet taste of success is addicting, and Johnson hopes this newer wave of athletes have the same craving and work towards making it more attainable. One of the more well-rounded teams in 2A last year, the Lions are a little raw on the attack, but Johnson said controlling the mental side of the game will go a long way in finding the right swings at the right time.
Coach: Michael Dumler (Second year)
Last year: 14-15 overall; 6-8 Class 4A Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Sydney Blackburn (Sr., OH/DS); Macy Bourn (Sr., OH/DS); Nicole Hamann (Sr., S/RS); Bailee Irwin (Sr., RS/MB); Delaney Overlin (Sr., S/RS); Kylee Wilburn (Sr., MB/OH).
Others to watch: Jaycee Docheff (Jr., L); Abbey Glynn (So., MB/RS).
Outlook: Keep an eye on the Mavericks, who won two tiebreakers during regionals to get a state bid for the second consecutive season in 2015 and return almost the entire squad. Dumler said he appreciates being able to watch this group of seniors bond on and off the court, and the younger players also have fit right in. They'll not be easy to defend, for sure.
Coach: Jennifer Dixon (First year)
Last year: 8-15 overall; 3-9 Class 5A Front Range League
Returning starters: Rachel Arrotta (Jr., OH); Jenny Kelly (Sr., L); Anna Prior (Sr., MB/RS); Addison Wasik (Sr., OH); Sophie Wingert (Sr., MB).
Others to watch: Grace Heilman (Jr., KB); Vivian Strange (Jr., S).
Outlook: Dixon inherits a team ripe with hitting talent and a defensive presence while at the same time a little green in the setter position. That said, the Coyotes are working hard to speed up their game and pass efficiently. Kelly racked up 17 digs per match last year and will look to keep flying around.
Coach: Shelby Nation (Third year)
Last year: 2-18 overall; 1-12 Class 2A Mile High League
Returning starters: Chloe Lindstrom (Sr., L); Brie Sineni (Sr., S); Karen Sorokach (Jr., MB).
Others to watch: Lilly Lindstrom (Fr., DS); Linnaea Thibedeau (Jr., MB).
Outlook: The Panthers continue to delight Nation in terms of working hard to get the most out of themselves against teams with relatively more club experience. Youth will continue to keep Nederland prone to mistakes, but they are also learning to connect three touches a lot more consistently.
Coach: Preston Brown (Sixth year)
Last year: 11-14 overall; 7-5 Class 4A Northern League
Returning starters: Ashley Bradbury (So., OH/RS); Brynn Chavez (Sr., S); Sarah Falk (Sr., MB/OH); Mackenzie Fidelak (Jr., RS); Courtney Smoljan (Sr., L/DS).
Others to watch: Emma Falk (So., RS/MB); Zoe Gonzales (So., MB).
Outlook: The Cougars bring to the court a lot of intensity, and Brown knows his team underachieved a little bit last year. It will be a tight rotation at first, but Niwot possesses height and athleticism even among the players that will swing up from JV. With a front line seemingly set, serving and passing continue to be areas that Niwot will reiterate in practice.
PEAK TO PEAK PUMAS
Coach: Chris Cranor (First year)
Last year: 18-7 overall; 7-3 Class 3A Metro League
Returning starters: Tyler Feddema (Jr., OH); Haley Frederking (Jr., S); Arianna Greenspan (So., DS); Rachel Stout (Sr., OH); Kailee Yano (Sr., S).
Others to watch: Margaux De Onaindia (Sr., MB); Mary Fanger (Jr., OH/RS); Jordyn Hall (So., MH); Molly Higdon (Sr., MB); Robin Peterson (Jr., OH/DS).
Outlook: Cranor comes over from Legacy and wants to prioritize enjoying the game most of all, however the Pumas should still be pretty solid in terms of winning. His philosophy includes a bit more chess-type mentality — seeing and reacting to what the other team is doing is quite important in his system of teaching. Yano will certainly help in all facets of the game.
PROSPECT RIDGE MINERS
Coach: Lexee Marshall (First year)
Last year: Did not compete varsity
Players to watch: Chloe Brown (Fr., L/S); Arianna Campbell (Jr., S/DS); Hailey Clark (Jr., MB); Skylar Freedle (So., L); Lauryn Parker (So., MB); Madison Schoeder (So., S); Kylie Silva (Jr., OH); Hayden Sniff (Jr., OH/RS).
Outlook: The program enters its third year and Marshall has been there since the beginning working with the girls. Now it's time to enjoy the chance to play in a league and try for more after going 19-2 last season against JV competition. There are no seniors in the school, so a unique opportunity exists to build a strong foundation over a two-year stretch.
SHINING MOUNTAIN LIONS
Coach: Mike Hawkes (Second year)
Last year: 6-14 overall; 3-5 Class 1A 5280 League
Returning starters: Sarah Bogen (Sr., S); Melissa Chilson (Sr., MB); Erin Ellinwood (Sr., RS/S).
Others to watch: Emma Beal (So., OH); Kate Koval (Sr., S); Amrita Shore (So., DS/OH).
Outlook: The Lions are filled with energetic players and there is a sense that a few more players will bring more volleyball skill to the court this year. For Hawkes, passing into the system is going to be something the team continues to work on weekly leading up to and during the season, as will be serving. Beal could get a lot of opportunities to hit.
SILVER CREEK RAPTORS
Coach: Tatum McKenzie (First year)
Last year: 14-15 overall; 7-5 Class 4A Northern League
Returning starters: Kelsey Adams (Sr., RS); Rylee Anderson (Jr., OH); Taylor Miller (Sr., OH); Chloe Olson (Sr., MB); Tori Schindler (Sr., MB); McKenna Webster (Sr., S); Jenika Zens (Sr., L).
Others to watch: MaKayla Brening (Jr., MB); Caitlyn Volkmann (Fr., MB/OH).
Outlook: McKenzie has been a lower-level coach with the Raptors for awhile so there is definitely a familiarity with systems as the season begins. Additionally, with 12 seniors, SCHS has a lot of experienced Northern League players that should help them stay in every match. Webster has committed to La.-Monroe, Anderson is an exceptional athlete and the team has worked on conditioning all summer to gear up for a memorable season.
Coach: Will Rozum (Eighth year)
Last year: 3-20 overall; 1-13 Class 4A Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Mikayla Brenneman (Sr., L); Maddie Koenigseker (Jr., MB); Marisol Montes (Sr., S/OH).
Others to watch: Abby Stoops (Fr., S/OH).
Outlook: The Falcons are just a few years removed from a 23-5 season (2010) under Rozum's guidance and the goal is to gradually build up once again starting with a finish in the top half of the TVL this year. Skyline will fight to keep balls off the floor and look for more offensive opportunities, and Rozum senses a real solid unity in the group.
TWIN PEAKS TIMBERWOLVES
Coach: Patti Fisher (First year)
Last year: 0-17 overall; 0-13 Class 2A Mile High League
Returning starters: Abigail Bell (Sr., MB); Joanne Lanz (Sr., RS); Anahi Rivera-Vega (Jr., L); Hannah Schauer (Jr., RS).
Others to watch: Madison Thorne (Jr., OH).
Outlook: Still such a young program looking to make traction, Fisher is hoping to remain competitive and positive as they work to gel together. As the defense becomes stronger and able to keep balls active, the Timberwolves will look to be aggressive offensively.
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