For Jen Dixon's red-hot Monarch volleyball team, there cannot be too many Cooks in the kitchen.
In fact, identical twin sisters Savannah and Laura Cook are giving the third year head coach all that she could ask for in terms of support and effort on the MoHi right side in helping the Coyotes to one of their best season starts in years.
The seniors, part of a group of 10 soon-to-be graduates on this 2018 squad, are bringing a tough mentality to the team that does not have a ton of playoff experience. That comes from having qualified for the state tournament in girls tennis, another sport that shares a court and a net and involves encouragement after every single point that is up for grabs.
"They're so powerful on the right side, it's spread our offense out so much more this year and has really made a difference with where we can go," Dixon said on Monday, shortly after the Coyotes improved to 8-3 overall with a road sweep of Front Range League foe Mountain Range. "We usually don't set the right side as much, but this year we've been able to because of just how strong they are. They put up a big block and that's another reason we've kept them there, too.
"They're our go-to girls, power hitters when we need a side out. We have 10 seniors, and I could speak great things about all of them, and we're really living off that chemistry right now."
Laura and Savannah have been sharing interests since birth, but their sports endeavors began around fifth grade and have continued step-by-step ever since. While they share the court in tennis — they made state in 2017 and just missed making that field this past spring — they play more of a singular role in the Monarch rotations as they play the same position.
However, that also affords them the opportunity to see what each other is doing, offer advice on form, and those little things that they can be comfortable sharing with each other.
"We've been on the court together forever, it seems," Savannah Cook said. "We're always cheering for one another, but there's also a little bit of us wanting to be better than the other one ... there's a competition there because I love competition. I feel like even though we aren't out there at the same time in volleyball, we can still have that 'twin' thing still going where we're sharing those moments."
"I think we do support each other a lot, and we're screaming the loudest for each other," Laura Cook added.
Now in their second year on varsity, both of them are putting up solid numbers as they are among a widespread group of contributors for Dixon. Savannah Cook is tied for the team lead with 86 kills while Laura Cook has 53 kills and his hitting .262 (a percentage that is second on the team). They are both instrumental on the blocks, as well, with a combined 45.
More so than numbers, both of them just want to lead.
With the high number of seniors — "I've waited for this season for awhile," Dixon said — there's a fine line between keeping things loose and holding each other accountable for mistakes without wreaking havoc on team chemistry.
Laura and Savannah said they both feel at ease around their teammates, and that's part of what has made the season great so far. The unusually large senior group also includes Colleen Chen, Demi Brown, Evelyn Haskins, Gia DeWitt, Hannah Spracklin, Kaylina Dice, Laura Stricker and Vivian Strange.
"I think Savannah and I both want to have those leadership skills out here, so that will also help us out next tennis season," Laura Cook said. "We want that so that, whenever we have a conflict of any sort, we want to make sure we're close enough to each other that we can be on the same page."
"I feel like the team chemistry is really working well for us, and we have all played with each other in years past. The team bonding has been great," Savannah Cook said. "We're never letting each other down and making sure the momentum is always high. I want to keep building on my leadership skills because I want to make sure that we do get that spot at regionals. That's my goal."
Monarch is gearing up for a big week, with matches against Legacy and Broomfield looming. Among its final seven Front Range League games, they'll play five against teams with winning records.
At 4-1 in league, a top half finish is possible and a regional tournament berth is definitely attainable. But, with a current No. 28 RPI (only 36 teams make regionals) the Coyotes wholly know they have to look at each and every match as its own down the stretch.
"There's the games we have to take care of business, and Legacy is one of those that we have to go take," Dixon said.