PLAYERS TO KNOW
Audrey Cheng, So., Fairview: Even in a two-setter system, Cheng is a special piece in place at FHS for years to come.
Callie Kaiser, Sr., Broomfield: Talented senior led Eagles in kills and digs last year.
Meagan Keen, Jr., Lyons: One of the reasons Lyons is expected to go far, Keen is productive at the net and on serve (51 aces last year).
Cori Kirschling, Sr., Niwot: Kirschling racked up 336 kills last year and hit .373; numbers only expected to rise for high-energy senior.
Elizabeth Potter, Sr., Silver Creek: The rise in play of Teagan Knechtel should only help Potter remain a thorn in the side of opponents.
Sophie Mosko, Jr., Holy Family: Even with a move to 4A, the Tigers have the confidence in the youthful Mosko to quarterback the offense.
Makenna Rockeman, Sr., Legacy: Has the ability to serve, block and throw down some wicked hits for the Lightning.
Caroline Schmiedeler, So., Fairview: Will combine with Bailey MacInnis, others to form potent Knights attack.
Maddie Uilk, Sr., Mead: Centerpiece attacker who is definitely ready to close out prep career with a blast and move on to college play.
Sydney Wetterstrom, Jr., Longmont: One of the state’s best all-around athletes will anchor the Trojans in another bid for state.
1A/2A district tournaments to be completed by Oct. 25. Regional tournaments for all classifications to be completed by Nov. 1.
State championship for all classifications will be held on Nov. 7-8 at the Denver Coliseum.
Coach: Kyle Rhatigan (First season).
Last year: 11-13 overall; 4-7 Front Range League.
Returning starters: Brooke Aschbacher (Sr., OH); Cassidy Evans (Sr., OH); Natalie Stucka (Sr., MB); Peyton Sessions (Sr., S).
Others to watch: Emma Chow (So., S); Gabrielle Eyl (Sr., OH/L); Zoe Myers (Jr., MB).
Outlook: Rhatigan was a varsity assistant last year, so there won’t be a ton of new things installed for the Panthers in 2014 and the hope is to compete in regionals. Evans returns as the leading attacker, and Sessions will take over as a full-time starter at setter. Eyl is a transfer from the San Francisco area that practiced with Holy Family last year.
Coach: Jeff Larsen (Second season).
Last year: 9-16 overall; 5-9 Class 4A Northern League.
Returning starters: Tori Biggerstaff (Sr., MB/OH); Mari Boyer (Jr., MB/OH); Brenna Fankell (Jr., OH); Callie Kaiser (Sr., OH); Madi Rademacher (So., S).
Others to watch: Kaley Ratcliff (Jr., L).
Outlook: Broomfield, which returns its top three attackers in Kaiser, Fankell and Biggerstaff, moves into the Front Range League with aspirations of being competitive right away. Larsen really hopes the team takes to visual communication with defensive adjustments and that the entire bench pushes to get playing time behind the returners.
Coach: Bev Sanders (19th season).
Last year: 4-19 overall; 0-14 Class 4A Northern League.
Returning starters: Allison Ebersole (Sr., OH); Bailey Kilday (So., OH); Monica Medrano (Sr., MB); Emilee Scates (So., RS).
Others to watch: Kelsey Koonce (So., RS); MaKenna Morgan (Jr., S).
Outlook: The landscape changes for the Warriors dramatically this year as they go to play in the Class 3A Metro League, where some tough squads still reside. However, it seems a good fit for CHS, who will rely heavily on Ebersole (120 kills in 2013) but expect to work as a team through thick and thin.
DAWSON SCHOOL MUSTANGS
Coach: Holly Novak (Second season).
Last year: 11-8 overall; 5-4 Mile High League.
Returning starters: Gabrielle Greenfield (Sr., RS/S); Julia Larson (Sr., MB).
Others to watch: Bailey Carsten (Fr., OH/RS); Liby Porrey (Fr., MB/OH); Delaney Pratt (Fr., S).
Outlook: In Novak the Mustangs have a coach who continually wants to grow, and she attended a number of clinics over the past year hoping to get the team to the next level. Dawson has a talented freshman class, providing the team with a unique dynamic.
Coach: Russell Fox (Second season).
Last year: 9-13 overall, 3-11 Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Katia Fitzgerald (Jr., S); Lexi Thomson (Sr., OH); Madi Willden (Jr., MB).
Others to watch: Maks Harris (Sr., MB); Charne Kenyon (Sr., DS); Rhiannon Mount (So., DS); Shania Ysac (So., OH).
Outlook: The Tigers will be successful if they vary tempo and are unpredictable, but someone will have to step up as a go-to attacker (Fitzgerald’s 49 kills in 2013 are the most among returners). Tri-Valley wins already had been tough to nab, and it just got tougher with the addition of Holy Family.
Coach: Brooke Simmons (10th season).
Last year: 13-12 overall; 7-4 Front Range League.
Returning starters: Audrey Cheng (So., S); Mari Jewell (Sr., L/DS); Bailey MacInnis (Sr., OH); Caroline Schmiedeler (So., OH).
Others to watch: Kiki Garthwaite (Sr., DS); Cree Lawrence (Jr., DS); Christine Schmiedeler (So., MB); Aza Verhoven (Sr., RS/S).
Outlook: Behind a good mix of experience and young talent, the Knights appear to be among the top teams in their league. Fairview might experiment with some different systems, but Caroline Schmiedeler and MacInnis are powerful on the attack and Cheng is as consistent as they come.
FAITH BAPTIST PIONEERS
Coach: Rosalyn Toves (First year).
Outlook: Toves has experience coaching the lower levels for Faith Baptist, and she said she could not wait to work with all her girls after the varsity team garnered a winning record in 2013. The Pioneers will have two returning seniors but will be young overall.
Coach: Geneva Morford (First season).
Last year: 19-6 overall; 10-4 Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: MaKenzie DiGesualdo (Sr., S); Kendra Kelley (Sr., RS).
Others to watch: Sabrina Hornsby (Sr., OH); KK Martinez (Sr., MB); Haley Moore (Sr., OH); Amalia Rolf (Jr., OH); Justine Torres (Sr., MB); Lexi Whitmer (Jr., L).
Outlook: The Warriors landed a good one in Morford, who took Roosevelt to six consecutive Final Four appearances in recent years, and she is excited to get back to the high school ranks with eight seniors on this year’s team. DiGesualdo will anchor a 5-1 system and Hornsby will be relied on heavily for a team Morford believes is capable of taking the next step.
HOLY FAMILY TIGERS
Coach: Diane Johannsen (First season).
Last year: 23-7 overall; 7-1 Class 3A Metro League.
Returning starters: Katie Weerstra (Sr., OH); Jessie Coral (Sr., RS/MB).
Others to watch: Jody Gallagher (Fr., OH/RS/MB); Julia Giltner (Fr., RS/MB); Abigail Hodell (Jr., OH); Jaelyn Larson (So., S/L); Sophie Mosko (Jr., S); Sami Smith (Jr., L); Megan Smiens (Jr., MB); Kelsie Torczynski (Jr., OH); Samantha Weber (So., L).
Outlook: Last year’s leading hitter, Blayke Hranicka, transferred to Mullen because of a family move, but Johannsen said she could not enter a better situation with the Tigers. A number of attackers could step up this year, including Smiens and Gallagher, as the team moves up to the tough 4A Tri-Valley League.
JEFFERSON ACADEMY JAGUARS
Coach: Janelle Bennett (Second season).
Last year: 6-18 overall; 2-6 Metro League.
Returning starters: Emma Anderson (Sr. OH); Aleyna Benson (Sr. S); Brittany Kovalaski (Sr., L).
Others to watch: Tanis Kohl (Fr., OH); Sammy Lewis (So., MB); Taylor Schwartz (Fr., S).
Outlook: Bennett is setting a high bar for her team this year, but the squad has bought in to the fact anything less than the state tournament is a disappointment. A tight rotation should keep a good flow, and Bennett is expecting a great season out of Lewis in the middle.
Coach: Lora Faust (Third season).
Last year: 9-14 overall; 4-7 Front Range League.
Returning starters: Kalliope Loudenburg (Jr., RS/MB); Hannah Moore (Sr., DS); Sydney Ottosen (Sr., OH); Makenna Rockeman (Sr., OH); KayLee Smith (Sr., DS).
Others to watch: Simone Borelli (So., S); Kylea Tallbear (Fr., MB).
Outlook: Legacy hasn’t made regionals since 2008, and that is a goal for this year’s team with the number of returning players. Rockeman is a next-level player, and Borelli will get a shot at being the primary setter this year. The Lightning should be strong on defense.
Coach: Tom Hunter (First season).
Last year: 25-2 overall; 14-0 Northern League.
Returning starters: Sydney Wetterstrom (Jr., OH).
Others to watch: Shiloh Berger (So., OH); Madi Gaibler (Jr., OH/RS); Jess Kusbel (Jr., MB); Megan McKinney (Jr., S).
Outlook: Hunter is a former collegiate coach who gets a Trojans team looking to continue its strong tradition. Wetterstrom is a dynamic player that teams can’t help but take notice of, though the attack will be well-versed. The team will dabble with a 6-2, and McKinney continues to learn the setter position.
LONGMONT CHRISTIAN WARRIORS
Coach: Lester Thorne (Fifth season).
Last year: 10-13 overall; 1-8 Mile High League.
Returning starters: Allison Cochran (Sr., OH); Abbey Moore-Kneipp (So., MB); Abby Rose (So., OH); Anna Stair (Jr., S).
Others to watch: Rebekah Flowers (Jr., RS); Anastasiya Houghton (So., OH); Madeline Lehnerr (Fr., MB); Sarah Robbins (Jr., MB/OH); Victoria Thorne (Fr., S/OH).
Outlook: The Warriors will have a mostly new starting lineup but still carry an optimistic attitude they’ll be well-tuned by the time the Class 1A districts roll around. Cochran is a strong attacker who averaged almost two kills a set last year, and the team boasts several solid servers.
Coach: Jeff Klipstein (Seventh season).
Last year: 17-10 overall; 5-5 Patriot League.
Returning starters: Jessica Boxrud (Jr., S); Ashlyn Christiansen (Jr., MB); Erika Ivkov (Jr., MB); Meagan Keen (Jr., OH); Maddi Maguire (So., S); Mikayla Roth (Sr., L); Sydney Stevelinck (Sr., S).
Others to watch: None.
Outlook: The numbers alone look great for the Lions, who look to build on last year’s state tournament appearance as they move from the Patriot League to the Mile High. Keen is a do-it-all player surrounded by others who fill specific roles, making the Lions one of the state’s top squads at the 2A level.
Coach: Nicole Nelson-Tycksen (First season).
Last year: 18-7 overall; 9-5 Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Cassie Hedger (Sr., S); Kailey Klibbe (Sr., L); Maddie Uilk (Sr., MB).
Others to watch: Macy Bourn (So., DS); Kari Lozinski (Sr., MB).
Outlook: A highly successful program under Rachael Ayers, Nelson hopes that her players are ready for a run at the league title while being able to embrace any changes in philosophy. Uilk is a consistent hitter with college potential, Klibbe is an exceptional passer and Lozinski is expected to have a huge year moving up to varsity.
Coach: Katie Erickson (Second season).
Last year: 5-18 overall; 2-9 Front Range League.
Returning starters: Libby Bell (Sr., OH); Stephanie Grosser (Sr., L); Jessy Hibl (Sr., OH); Katherine Huntington (Jr., MB); Kennedy Selby (Sr., S).
Others to watch: Sophie Wingert (So., MB).
Outlook: After a couple of down seasons, the Coyotes hope to get back to prominence with a number of experienced seniors at the helm. Selby is a sneaky setter who racked up 113 kills last year, and Bell, Hibl and Huntington continue to grow.
Coach: Shelby Nation (First season).
Last year: 3-20 overall; 0-9 Mile High League.
Returning starters: Jessica Gloe (Sr., OH); Gillian Nasty (Sr., S/RS).
Others to watch: Anne Cox (Sr., MB); Katie Jewell (Jr., OH); Maggie Rockett (Sr., RS).
Outlook: After two years coaching at lower levels, Nation — a senior at CU — is excited to take the Panthers to new heights. She said she has seen tremendous work ethic in practice all summer and chemistry is starting to form, which should help add to the Panthers’ win total.
Coach: Preston Brown (Second season).
Last year: 18-7 overall; 10-4 Northern League.
Returning starters: Lexi Eliopulos (Sr., MB); Cori Kirschling (Sr., OH); Madison Weckerly (Sr., OH).
Others to watch: Mikayla Dennis (So., OH); Sarah Falk (So., MB); Mackenzie Fidelak (Fr., RS).
Outlook: Playing up to potential could lead the Cougars very far in a more open Northern League. They boast seven seniors, and there is a level of trust amongst them that has bred success for years. Kirschling is a machine, but Eliopulos and Weckerly also combined for 265 kills.
PEAK TO PEAK PUMAS
Coach: Pam Bergeland (Third season).
Last year: 13-13 overall; 4-4 Metro League.
Returning starters: Allison Hankey (Sr., OH/MB); Kaelyn Powers (Sr., OH); MacKenzie Stout (Jr., MB); Marie Spence (Sr., L); Kailee Yano (So., S).
Others to watch: Maddison Graham (OH/MB); Sarah Sparling (Sr., OH/DS).
Outlook: The Pumas went 1-1 at regionals last year, with a number of returners the expectation is to at least equal that. Spence is switching to libero this year, giving P2P more flow overall. Yano stepped in as a freshman with 475 assists, and the total likely will rise this season.
SHINING MOUNTAIN LIONS
Coach: Ashleigh Mounger (Second season).
Last year: 5-14 overall; 1-5 5280 League.
Returning starters: Keli Hall (Sr., OH); Nayana Morrissey (Jr., MB); Chloe Weber (Sr., L); Kaiya Whitehead (Sr., S); Katherine Wilson (Jr., OH).
Others to watch: Melissa Chilson (So., MB); Rosie Gershman (Jr., RS).
Outlook: Mounger has a good group of players to work with, players that are familiar with each other and how she wants to run her systems. Wilson is strong at the net, but precise passing will be the key to their success.
SILVER CREEK RAPTORS
Coach: Jill Olson (First season).
Last year: 15-10 overall; 7-7 Northern League.
Returning starters: Serana Hubert (Sr., DS); Teagan Knechtel (Sr., MB); Elizabeth Potter (Sr., OH); Angela Walter (Sr., DS).
Others to watch: Jaymie Ackerman (Sr., DS); Kelsey Adams (So., MB); Kayla Flora (Sr., MB); Roxy Huxley (Jr., RS); Alexa Jayne (Sr., S); Olivia Storaci (So., OH).
Outlook: With Potter being one of the top hitters in 4A and the Raptors having a senior heavy squad, Olson has reason for optimism. She said Knechtel will play a huge role this year and likes what Jayne has been doing to gain footing with a 5-1 system. Storaci and Adams will get a lot of court time, too.
Coach: Will Rozum (Seventh season).
Last year: 4-19 overall; 2-12 Tri-Valley League.
Returning starters: Naomi Barron (Sr., MB); Marie Montante (Sr., DS); Bri Robison (Sr., RS); Kelsey Robison (Jr., S); Alyssa Steed (Sr., MB); Olivia Torres (Sr., OH).
Others to watch: Melissa Barron (Sr., S); Alex Hellenberg (Jr., OH); Amber Montante (Sr., DS).
Outlook: The Falcons have a unique roster with two pairs of sisters and another two who are cousins, but they are just a part of a group looking to rebound from last year. Rozum said the idea of running a 6-2 is possible, but Skyline will have to be willing to play bigger than their bodies, because they don’t have size.
TWIN PEAKS TIMBERWOLVES
Coach: Adina Premer (First season).
Last year: 1-9 overall.
Returning starters: Megan Hiatt (Sr., S); Melissa Hulstrom (Sr., OH); Grace Ostdiek (Sr., MB); Emily Oswald (Sr., S); Abigail Wanninger (Sr., RS).
Others to watch: Makaela Armstead (Sr., OH); Katelyn Buckley (Sr., MB).
Outlook: The Timberwolves experienced the highs and lows of being a first-year varsity program last year, but Premer believes her senior-heavy team will respond to challenges better. Serve receive is a crucial area of improvement for the team.
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