Fairview’s Ava Lai is the Knights only returning starter this season.
Fairview's Ava Lai is the Knights only returning starter this season. (Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Rylee Anderson, Sr., Silver Creek: The only full-year starting holdover for the Raptors, Anderson's jumping ability is second-to-none.

Sara Berghoff, Sr., Holy Family: The Tigers have their dynamic setter back in what could be a state title run in 4A.

Kylen Christensen, Jr., Lyons: The Lions have chemistry entering 2017, and Christensen really is their triple-threat on setting, attacking and serving.

Mackenzie Fidelak, Sr., Niwot: Early candidate for 4A player of the year, Fidelak has a .329 career hitting percentage.

Zoe Gonzales, Jr., Niwot: It's going to be tough to hit around the 6-foot-forever front that Gonzales anchors along with Fidelak and Emma Falk.

Rachel Kusbel, Sr., Longmont: Did a tremendous job of carrying the team the second half of last year, and she's looking to go out strong.

Ava Lai, Sr., Fairview: Another fun player to watch attack, Lai should see a lot more sets than last year as Fairview aims for another FRL title.

Mya Michaelson, Sr., Erie: One of the area's better stuff blockers, Michaelson will keep the Tigers in a lot of matches on her own.

Sarah Stevelinck, Sr., Lyons: Stevelinck is the Lions' sparkplug, a tough server whose passing will also be key for the 2A state contenders.


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Ali Travis, Jr., Holy Family: The reigning BoCoPreps.com player of the year has a chance to be one of the Tigers' most storied athletes.

POSTSEASON INFORMATION

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. 21; 3A/4A/5A season complete by Oct. 28). Teams will work through district and regional tournaments by Nov. 4, and the state tournament will be held at the Denver Coliseum on Nov. 10-11.

Niwot’s Mackenzie Fidelak will be one of the top players in the state this season.
Niwot's Mackenzie Fidelak will be one of the top players in the state this season. (Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)

 

TEAM-BY-TEAM OUTLOOK

Boulder Panthers

Coach: Kyle Rhatigan (4th year).

2016 finish: 13-12 overall; 6-6 Class 5A Front Range League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Hannah Bagley (Sr., OH); Cassie Stoffer (Sr., MB); Nicole Williams (Sr., MB).

Others to watch: Claire Boyle (Sr., DS); Cecily Quinn (Sr., S); Kailey Reagan (Sr., OH/L).

Outlook: As their record would indicate, the Panthers were a team that battled with consistency but were pretty good overall, and Bagley leads a group of seniors looking to get back to regionals and make things happen. Rhatigan sees the physical skills, and now it is time to excel on the mental side of the game. With a group of upcoming juniors looking to come on, Boulder has some great experience.

 

Broomfield Eagles

Coach: Lysa Johnson (2nd year).

2016 finish: 6-17 overall; 2-10 Front Range League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Shaela Burkert (Sr., MB); Kristina Consbruck (So., S); Heidi DeBuhr (Sr., L/OH); Vicki Fankell (So., OH); Abby Major (Sr., OPP)

Others to watch: Nicole Gonzales (Sr., OH); Hope Hanak-Harper (So., OPP); Emily Jaramillo (Jr., S); Lesley Munson (Jr., MB); Eva Thoreson (Sr., DS/OH/OPP); Maddy Welty (Jr., MB).

Outlook: The Eagles were pretty young last year and lots of girls saw time on varsity, giving this year's team a nice base to work with. The chemistry should be evident early, and BHS must work on reducing hitting errors and serve receive errors to get the results they'll be looking for.

Longmont’s Rachel Kusbel, center, and the Trojans will be looking to improve on last season’s results.
Longmont's Rachel Kusbel, center, and the Trojans will be looking to improve on last season's results. (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)

 

Centaurus Warriors

Coach: Kasey Koonce (3rd year).

2016 finish: 7-16 overall; 3-11 Class 4A Northern League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Laila Buchler (Sr., L); Alexa Ferry (Sr., OH); Kjerstin Bedford (Sr.; OPP); Imani Licata-Becerril (Sr., MB).

Others to watch: Tess Jason (Fr., DS); Megan Schultz (So., OH); Krista Visscher (Jr., MB/RS).

Outlook: Among the Warriors' wins last year were five-set victories against Thompson Valley and Longmont late in the campaign, and the Warriors have a good flock of seniors who will look to remain confident. Ferry led the team in kills and was high in other statistical categories, while Schultz was a force as a freshman, too. "We are tall, strong and versatile," Koonce said.

 

Dawson School Mustangs

Coach: Carisa Kessler (2nd year).

2016 finish: 11-9 overall; 4-6 Class 2A District 7.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Stella Bristol (Jr., OH); Bailey Carsten (Sr., OH); Liv Cramer (Sr., MB); Kelley Huwaldt (Sr., DS); Elisabeth Porrey (Sr., OH); Kiera Porrey (So., S/RS); Delaney Pratt (Sr., S).

Others to watch: Nicole Scribner (Fr., L).

Outlook: Kessler knows the league is daunting but she is also confident the Mustangs are going to be able to play in system a lot more frequently this year. As she said, "we are hitting the ground running." Carsten returns after being hurt all of last year, and she'll add to the dynamic that already includes last year's top hitters Liz Porrey and Bristol. Kiera Porrey is as consistent a server as they come, and she and Pratt return to set up plays.

 

Erie Tigers

Coach: Molly Creek (1st year).

2016 finish: 15-10 overall; 6-8 Class 4A Tri-Valley League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Jessica Amend (So., S); Megan Casillas (Jr., S); Sydney Crites (Jr., OH); Mya Michaelson (Sr., MB); Autymn Purcell (Sr., RS/DS)

Others to watch: Veronica Beltz (Jr., L); Haley Hahn (Jr., MB).

Outlook: Creek, who went to Peak to Peak and played at DePaul, takes over a Tigers team looking to break through in the TVL. Michaelson is one of the area's most well-rounded middles and should have a tremendous season if Crites comes back as strong as she was last season. Casillas has a year of experience as the setter, and the Tigers will work to be quicker.

 

Fairview Knights

Coach: Kelsey Spencer (3rd year).

2016 finish: 22-5 overall; 11-1 Front Range League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Ava Lai (Sr., MB).

Others to watch: Grace Andrews (So., OH); Sam Anthony (So., L); Cali Fuller (Jr., RS/MB); Sarah Huang (Jr., S); Sophie Pearson (Jr., S/RS); Devon Walsh (Jr., OH).

Outlook: Spencer had 11 seniors last year in what was another fantastic run at the Class 5A title, and this fresh-faced crew will get their chance to build on everything the Knights have accomplished the past few years. Lai is a real graceful player and will be strong in the middle attack, and the team will look first and foremost to be strong defensively and let their new hitters get comfortable. Pearson got some good time in at setter last year and worked closely with Audrey Cheng — one of the state's best.

 

Frederick Warriors

Coach: Suzanne Robison (1st year).

2016 finish: 3-20 overall; 2-12 Tri-Valley League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Isabella Baeza (Sr., L); Bailey Baumgardner (Jr., MB/OH); Josi Revielle (Jr., S); Paige Schaa (Jr., OH); Julia White (Jr., OH); Madison Zamudio (Jr., S)

Others to watch: Alexis Krause (Sr., DS); Gillian Ridgely (So., OH); Mylie Tarnowksi (Sr., RS).

Outlook: The Warriors are very much ready to turn a page and compete as they did in 2012 and 2013 — and Robison has a huge corps of returners that want to be a factor in the TVL. More importantly, Robison said the incoming freshmen have a lot of background in the sport, and some of them may contribute soon. With a good load of juniors, there is a base to build on for a couple years.

 

Holy Family Tigers

Coach: Krista Solomon (3rd year).

2016 finish: 24-5 overall; 12-2 Tri-Valley League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Sara Berghoff (Sr., S); Jody Gallagher (Sr., MB); Julia Giltner (Sr., MB); Rachel Siurek (Sr., OH/RS); Ali Travis (Jr., OH).

Others to watch: Peyton Frank (So., L).

Outlook: The Class 4A runners-up will be looking to get back in the same position next year, albeit with even more readiness for that final bout. The TVL is a good place to be for a challenge, and the Tigers will aim for that league title initially in order to host a regional. While last year's seniors were influential in everything, this year's group truly is talented across the board and Berghoff once again has the opportunity to set up some potent attackers. The Tigers won't be able to fly under the radar this season, that's for sure.

 

Jefferson Academy Jaguars

Coach: Kyle Tycksen (2nd year).

2016 finish: 9-14 overall; 3-6 Class 3A Metro League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Tanis Kohl (Sr., OH); Kaele O'Donnell (Sr., MB); Taylor Schwartz (Sr., S); (Katie Thimsen (Sr., DS).

Others to watch: Kaitlyn Donohue (Sr., OH); Molly Floyd (Jr., L); Emily Grantham (Sr., MB/RS); Logan Mahnke (So., MB); Kayla Slusser (Jr., RS/OH).

Outlook: The Jaguars' record would look a little more shiny were it not for a couple of forfeit losses (academic issue), but that is in the past and Tycksen is looking forward to having this experienced core back. They'll be gunning for a more dynamic attack, but Kohl will be free to take a lot of swings. O'Donnell will roam the middle as the team's leading returning block specialist, and Schwartz should get in more time as the primary setter.

 

Legacy Lightning

Coach: Kerry Morgan (2nd year).

2016 finish: 13-12 overall; 7-5 Front Range League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Taylor Hyatt (Sr., MB); Brooke King (Jr., DS); Eme McBride (Sr., OH); Kylea Tallbear (Sr., OH)

Others to watch: Brittany Baum (Jr., RS/MB); Hope Hagara (So., L); Bailee Newham (Jr., MB); Emma Quarles (Jr., S); Jenna Wehrly (Jr., OH).

Outlook: The Lightning scored a huge win last year against Fairview but could not build on that over the last half of the year, at least in the win-loss columns. While it will be hard to replace Simone Borelli, Legacy does feature a strong returning attack, a potent service game and a group at the net who will block well — Hyatt and McBride stick out, for sure. It should be a fun year for LHS.

 

Longmont Trojans

Coach: Holli Stetson (16th year).

2016 finish: 13-12 overall; 7-7 Northern League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Kaitlyn Bridge (Sr., MB); Ellen Goodwin (Jr., DS); Rachel Kusbel (Sr., OH); Mikayla Snyder (Jr., RS/DS); Annika Wetterstrom (Jr., S).

Others to watch: Caroline Demostheness (So., MB); Payton Jonason (Fr., OH/MB); Zowe Lowe (Sr., RS).

Outlook: A number of things contributed to a subpar 2016, but the Trojans are always a challenging team to play. That starts with Wetterstrom, who just does a little bit of everything, and Kusbel, who really come on strong last year. The Trojans are collectively good on the blocks and it appears the middle positions are deep. Don't be surprised if Longmont is contending for a top-three league spot.

 

Longmont Christian Warriors

Coach: Kami Puchino (1st year).

2016 finish: 3-19 overall; 1-10 Class 1A District 4.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Whitney Echols (Jr., OH/S/L); Audrey Gunlikson (Jr., OH); Christina Oswald (Jr., RS); Savannah Vrooman (Jr., MB).

Others to watch: Rachel Cahill (Fr., DS); Samantha Johnson (So., MB); Maddie Lehnherr (Sr., MB); Jenna Scheuerman (Fr., OH); Morganne Scheuerman (Sr., S).

Outlook: Puchino returns to coach a team that, for the size of the school, has good numbers for volleyball. The Warriors boast several girls who play multiple sports, and the coach expects a fun environment while trying to build up their skills in the sport. "My hope is they walk away winners or learners after each game," Puchino said.

 

Lyons Lions

Coach: Mason Johnson (3rd year).

2016 finish: 20-7 overall; 9-2 Class 2A District 7.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Kylen Christiansen (Jr., S); Sarah Hall (Sr., RS); Ixchel Leeuwenburgh (Sr., MB); Taylor Maguire (So., OH); Sarah Stevelinck (Sr., L); Adele Walker (Sr., MB/RS).

Others to watch: Payton Goll (Sr., DS); Addy Huber (So., MB); Hayley Karsel (Sr., S); Caitlyn Kohler (Sr., DS); Ava McCall (Jr., DS).

Outlook: The Lions are reloaded and have the potential for another good state run in 2A, and people are recognizing that in their No. 3 CHSAANow ranking for the preseason. Just one player graduated from last year's team, and Maguire is primed to be a force at the net. Leeuwenburgh is an outstanding three-sport athlete and has the needed intensity for the team, and Stevelinck has a great eye for defense and passing.

 

Mead Mavericks

Coach: Michael Dumler (3rd year).

2016 finish: 15-10 overall; 9-5 Tri-Valley League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Abbey Glynn (Jr., MB).

Others to watch: Hailee Martinez (Fr., S); Kenzi Morton (Fr., OH); Victoria Thorne (Sr., OH).

Outlook: Dumler has brought some intensity to the sidelines at Mead, and the Mavericks will continue to try and play fast as they grow through a youth movement. Glynn is a three-sport athlete who is agile, and the team will feature her as the only returning player from a regional qualifier. "While we expect to have growing pains we believe we can compete at a high level," Dumler said.

 

Monarch Coyotes

Coach: Jennifer Dixon (2nd year).

2016 finish: 12-13 overall; 5-7 Front Range League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Rachel Arrotta (Sr., OH); Colleen Chen (Jr., S); Grace Heilman (Sr., MB).

Others to watch: Demi Brown (Jr., L); Evelyn Haskins (Jr., OH); Laura Stricker (Jr., MB).

Outlook: Like Boulder, the Coyotes were great on some nights and then just didn't have anything to offer on others. That should be more balanced as players continue to accustom themselves to the system. Arrotta tallied 261 kills while hitting a respectable .214, and Chen will get a shot at being the primary setter for this fairly young team.

 

Nederland Panthers

Coach: Kirt McCracken (1st year).

2016 finish: 0-14 overall; 0-12 Class 2A District 4.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Sofie Anderson (Sr., RS); Hattie Bakke (Sr., OH); Karen Sorokach (Sr., OH).

Others to watch: Lily Lindstrom (Sr., L/S); Breegan McClish (Jr., MB); Mazie Pancoast (Sr., OH); Linnaea Thibedeau (Sr., MB).

Outlook: McCracken coaches the boys basketball team and has a playing background in volleyball, but in his first year is already having fun with the team as they try and rebound from last season. His mantra is defense first and he'll rely on them running the same offense as last year for the sake of familiarity. Anderson is a good jumper and the team has some good height in the middle.

 

Niwot Cougars

Coach: Daisha Agho (1st year).

2016 finish: 18-9 overall; 14-0 Northern League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Emma Falk (Jr., MB); Mackenzie Fidelak (Sr., RS); Zoe Gonzales (Jr., MB); Audrey Richard (Jr., OH).

Others to watch: Katie Hirsh (Jr., S); Rachel Priola (Jr., L); Madison Schoeder (Jr., S); Kate Sebesta (So., OH).

Outlook: Look out — seriously. Agho, who comes from Berthoud, brings an extensive resume with her and the Cougars have the potential to be very good. The Stanford-bound Fidelak is the centerpiece of a determined team, but with Gonzales and Falk just juniors it's still a young team. A five-set loss to Holy Family at state is still eating at them and they'll also be looking to fend off Silver Creek in the Northern League. A heads-up — Niwot hosts Silver Creek on September 7 while the teams meet again at SCHS on October 3.

 

Peak to Peak Pumas

Coach: Chris Cranor (2nd year).

2016 finish: 13-12 overall; 4-5 Metro League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Tyler Feddema (Sr., OH); Haley Frederking (Sr., S/OH/RS); Arianna Greenspan (Jr., L); Robin Peterson (Sr., RS).

Others to watch: Jordyn Hall (Jr., MB).

Outlook: The Pumas had a great beginning to last year before a rough second half, but Cranor fully expects this experienced group to get over a major hurdle. Hall had a major shoulder surgery she's recovered from, and the play in the middle could be key — said Cranor: "We'll need to work hard to keep offenses out of system so as to save our defense."

 

Prospect Ridge Miners

Coach: Lexee Marshall (2nd year varsity).

2016 finish: 16-8 overall; 4-5 Metro League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Chloe Brown (So., L); Sarah Carvo (Sr., OH); Arianna Campbell (Sr., S/L); Hailey Clark (Sr., MB); Gabi Maiocco (Jr., RS); Lauryn Parker (Jr., MB); Kylie Silva (Sr., OH).

Others to watch: Destiny Castro (Jr., OHRS); Addie Freedle (Fr., S).

Outlook: What a great debut it was in general for the Miners in their first year of varsity play, and the cool thing is they didn't have any seniors. The goal in year two is state, and a young Freedle will carry a big responsibility with the offense. Silva is an established hitter and Marshall is expecting Castro, a transfer, to be a force eventually.

 

Shining Mountain Lions

Coach: Mike Hawkes (3rd year).

2016 finish: 2-17 overall; 0-8 Class 1A District 8.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Emma Beal (Jr., OH); Cami Clark (So., MB); Sophie Fairmount (Sr., DS).

Others to watch: Natasha Gromicko (Fr., S); Ava Jabari (Sr., MB); Olivia Jabari (Fr., DS); Maitreya Suchocki (Jr., DS); Tess Sullivan (Fr., OH).

Outlook: Obviously the Lions will be young, but Hawkes believes it could really be enjoyable to watch the group mesh during the season and it already has shown positive steps in the early practices this season. This is a team that is going to rely on the grasping of fundamentals through the year, and hopefully that will develop into in-system play and more offensive firepower.

 

Silver Creek Raptors

Coach: Tatum McKenzie (2nd year).

2016 finish: 22-5 overall; 12-2 Northern League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Rylee Anderson (Sr., OH).

Others to watch: Jayla Harding (Jr., S/DS/OH); Tess Peter (Fr., L); Caitlin Volkmann (So., MB).

Outlook: Last year was a special year for the senior-heavy Raptors, who finished second in the Northern League and won a regional title. With so many new faces, there may be an uphill climb to the top but Anderson is the type of player that can be the focal point of the offense and still be hard to stop. Add to that Volkmann, who came on strong and started as a freshman after an injury to another player, and Silver Creek has a couple of studs to build around. Harding is a transfer from Lyons who will get to play right away, and McKenzie said she can do a multitude of things.

 

Skyline Falcons

Coach: Sarah Karimi (1st year).

2016 finish: 1-21 overall; 0-14 Tri-Valley League.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Hannah Bolitho (Sr., RS/OH); Jenny Dunder (So., MB/OH); Molly Hennessy (So., OH); Sophia Lindauer (So., OH); Abigail Stoops (So., S/RS); Julia Webb (Sr., (MB/OH).

Others to watch: None specified.

Outlook: Pretty much everything that could go wrong for the Falcons did last season, but Karimi will try her hand at changing things around. The rather large contingent of sophomores will get a chance to gain a ton of experience in the hefty TVL.

 

Twin Peaks Timberwolves

Coach: Patti Fisher (2nd year).

2016 finish: 3-14 overall; 3-8 Class 2A District 7.

Returning starters (Name, position, year): Anahi Rivera-Vega (Sr., L); Jenna Sickau (Jr., MB); Hannah Schauer (Sr., MB); Madison Thorne (Sr., OH);

Others to watch: Eve Darby (Sr., OPP); Isha Karki (Sr., OPP); Anna Lester (So., S); Natalie Rodriguez (So., DS); Sydney Stevenson (So., S); Peyton Thorne (Jr., OH).

Outlook: The schedule will never do the Timberwolves any favors but Fisher hopes that in her second season the team will show a lot more fluidity against the tougher opponents like Dayspring Christian and Lyons. There is a lot of confidence in the middles and Rivera-Vega covers a lot of the back row. The team will look to eliminate service errors and give other teams the easy points.

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