Lewis Geyer / TIMES-CALL
Mark Leffingwell / Daily Camera
PLAYERS TO KNOW
Simone Borelli, Jr., Legacy: Solid all-around player who will run the offense again for the Lightning.
Macy Bourn, Sr., Mead: Aggressive server who gives the Mavericks a dynamic defensive option.
Audrey Cheng, Jr., Fairview: Known for her setting skills, Cheng is also an excellent blocker, giving the Knights added dimension.
Mackenzie Fidelak, So., Niwot: Gifted athlete who will only get better in a central role for the Cougars.
Katia Fitzgerald, Sr., Erie: A setter very adept at surprising opponents with the quick-kill.
Erika Ivkov, Sr., Lyons: A giant talent on the small-school level, Ivkov led the team in kills, aces and digs last year.
Samantha Lewis, Jr., Jefferson Academy: A strong blocking specialist, Lewis will get the chance to lead a young Jaguars team.
Sophie Mosko, Sr., Holy Family: All-conference player who will aid in Holy Family’s second season in the Tri-Valley League.
Caroline and Christine Schmiedeler, Jrs., Fairview: Twin sisters provide Knights with intimidating net presence.
Sydney Wetterstrom, Sr., Longmont: Let’s acknowledge it — she’s a senior triple-threat bound to finish out prep career strong.
Class 1A and 2A district tournaments are to be completed by Oct. 31, and regional tournaments for all classifications are to be completed by Nov. 7. The state championships for all classifications will be held on Nov. 13-14 at the Denver Coliseum.
Coach: Kyle Rhatigan (2nd year)
Last year: 12-13 overall, 5-7 Class 5A Front Range League
Returning starters: Emma Chow (Jr., S); Jean Cutter (Jr., OH); Grace Garza (Sr., RS); Zoe Myers (Sr., MB); Tate Todea (Sr., L); Nicole Williams (So., MB).
Others to watch: Hannah Bagley (So., MB/OH); Odelia Ryan (Sr., OH).
Outlook: With graduating their top three kill leaders from a year ago, the Panthers are tasked with finding a pair or more athletes who can put the ball down. Luckily they have an experienced setter in Chow, who should help keep the offense going across the net. Boulder struggled in close battles last year, and a few more 5-set wins could pay off in the playoffs.
Coach: Jeff Larsen (3rd year)
Last year: 14-11 overall, 8-4 Front Range League
Returning starters: Mari Boyer (Sr., OH); Shaela Burkert (So., MB); Kaley Ratcliff (Sr., L).
Others to watch: Natalia Benallo (Fr., OH/DS); Nicole Gonzales (So., OH); Sarah Scott (Sr., S).
Outlook: The Eagles had graduation hit them, but also had some unexpected losses to the roster that will make them younger overall. However, Larsen is excited about the “youthful exuberance” they are showing and hopes that early cohesiveness translates to systems working well.
Coach: Kacey Koonce (1st year)
Last year: 12-13 overall, 6-4 Class 3A Metro League
Returning starters: Kaylin Kehmeier (Sr., DS); Kelsey Koonce (Jr., RS/MB); MaKenna Morgan (Sr., S); Emilee Scates (Jr., RS/S); Bailey Stever (Sr., MB).
Others to watch: Kjerstin Bedford (So., OH/RS); Laila Buchler (So., OH/DS); Alexa Ferry (So., OH/RS); Cydnee Morgan (Jr., OH/MB).
Outlook: Unfortunately, Koonce reported injuries are mounting early for the team, but the good news is she feels versatility exists on the CHS roster. The Warriors may run a 5-1 or 6-2 depending on the injury status of Scates, but Centaurus hopes to make the most of competing in a tough 3A league.
DAWSON SCHOOL MUSTANGS
Coach: Holly Novak (3rd year)
Last year: 3-17 overall, 1-11 Class 2A/1A Mile High League
Returning starters: Maddie Heroux (Sr., OH); Libby Porrey (So., S); Delaney Pratt (So., S/RS).
Others to watch: Kelley Barrett (Sr., DS/OH); Stella Bristol (Fr., Util.); Maddie Fagundo (Sr., L); Leah Hartgens (Sr., OH); Sarah Leidich (Jr., OH/MB).
Outlook: The Mustangs struggled in passing most of the year in 2014, and that led to a general ineffectiveness on offense. That said, Novak is excited about the growth the team has shown both in experience and numbers willing to commit to the program. Dawson has three full teams for the first time in her tenure, and they went to a camp at Colorado State that she said helped form a great bond.
Coach: Russell Fox (3rd year)
Last year: 6-17 overall, 2-12 Class 4A Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Katia Fitzgerald (Sr., S); Katie Gallagher (Sr., S); Mya Michaelson (So., MB); Rhiannon Mount (Jr., DS/L); Madison Wilden (Sr., MB); Shania Ysac (Jr., OH).
Others to watch: Darby Berringer (Jr., OH); Sydney Marler (Jr., RS); Cheyenne Rasmussen (Jr., DS); Megan Weigand (Jr., MB).
Outlook: The Tigers are expecting playoffs this year after a subpar 2014 season, and at the heart of the offense is Fitzgerald, who Fox said is arguably the league’s best setter. The key for Erie is on the blocks and back row defense, being stronger on digs to set the offense in motion.
Coach: Kelsey Spencer (1st year)
Last year: 23-4 overall, 11-1 Front Range League
Returning starters: Audrey Cheng (Jr., S); Cree Lawrence (Sr., DS/L); Caroline Schmiedeler (Jr., OH) Christine Schmiedeler (Jr., MB/RS).
Others to watch: Lauren Eckl (Sr., DS); Marina Felt (Sr., OH/RS); Haley Kilday (Jr., OH); Meredith Pearl (Jr., MB).
Outlook: Fairview made the state tournament for the first time in quite awhile last year, and there are expectations to make a return trip in Spencer’s first season at the helm. The talent is widespread, and the Knights got even more help with Kilday transferring from Centaurus as an all-conference player. Hosting regionals is a target for the staff and players.
FAITH BAPTIST PIONEERS
Coach: Terri Lyn Dillon (1st year)
Last year: First year in CHSAA
Returning starters: Jasmine Biesanz (Sr., MB); Tori McConathy (Sr., OH); Cheyenne Wisenborn (Sr., S).
Others to watch: None.
Outlook: New to the sanctioned world of CHSAA this year, the Pioneers will play an independent schedule while competing in Class 1A’s District 4 for a playoff spot. Dillon is expecting her returning players to carry the team on a mental level as they have several new-to-the-sport athletes looking to be a part of the adventure.
Coach: Matt Samson (1st year)
Last year: 11-12 overall, 5-9 Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: None.
Others to watch: Kaylin Lillard (Jr., S); Kendra Massey (Sr., MB); Nicole Rawson (Sr., L); Amalia Rolf (Sr., OH); Francie Shaffer (Jr., MB); Lexi Whitmer (Sr., OH).
Outlook: While it appears as though the Warriors don’t have a lot of experience, Frederick is returning a bunch of varsity players, so the experience level is a bit deceiving as Samson takes over. What he does know is there’s a real “fresh start” feel, and there has been a lot of work put in already. Passing and serving will need to be strong, because the team is not blessed with size.
HOLY FAMILY TIGERS
Coach: Krista Solomon (1st year)
Last year: 8-15 overall, 5-9 Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Jody Gallagher (So., MB); Abigail Hodell (Sr., MB/RS); Sophie Mosko (Sr., S); Kelsey Torczynski (Sr., OH); Samantha Weber (Jr., L) .
Others to watch: Willow Belenski (Jr., DS); Sara Berghoff (So., RS); Julia Giltner (So., MB); Jaelyn Larson (Sr., DS); Ali Travis (Fr., OH) .
Outlook: Solomon comes to Holy Family after 18 years at Community Christian, and the Tigers have a lot of returning talent on their roster. Included in that is most of their front line, and Mosko will distribute well. Solomon hopes the team continues to serve aggressively and well.
JEFFERSON ACADEMY JAGUARS
Coach: Amanda Ferrera (1st year)
Last year: 8-14 overall, 3-7 Metro League
Returning starters: Aracelli Chang (Jr., S/DS); Tanis Kohl (So., OH); Samantha Lewis (Jr., MB); Taylor Schwartz (So., S).
Others to watch: Anna Coleman (Jr., L); Mari Dittz (Sr., DS); Molly Floyd (Fr., S); Kae O’Donnell (So., MB).
Outlook: The Jaguars are seeing numbers increase within the program, a good sign for a new coach. Ferrera said the girls are quickly adjusting to the systems she wants to run, although skill-building is more important this year than the win-loss mark. Floyd is an athletic setter who will contribute immediately.
Coach: Kaylene Granado (1st year)
Last year: 9-14 overall, 6-6 Front Range League
Returning starters: Simone Borelli (Jr., S); Kalliope Loudenburg (Sr., MB/RS); Kylea Tallbear (So., MB); Joely Tynes (Sr., OH).
Others to watch: Taylor Hyatt (So., MB); Eme McBride (So., MB); Kira Thomsen (Fr., OH).
Outlook: Granado has been with Regis Jesuit for the past 12 years, where she coached both boys and girls teams for the Raiders. In her first year at LHS, the Lightning have some returning starters that will help the transition, but there is a general need to hit better all around and finish games stronger. Granado said the team hit some snags in summer play that she hopes they can correct when it matters.
Coach: Holli Stetson (11th year overall; 1st after one-year hiatus)
Last year: 12-13 overall, 8-4 Northern League
Returning starters: Shiloh Berger (Jr., OH/RS); Megan McKinney (Sr., OH/RS); Sydney Mosness (Sr., MB); Jensen Walker (Jr., L/OH); Sydney Wetterstrom (Sr., OH).
Others to watch: Rachel Kusbel (So., MB/OH); Olivia Storaci (Jr., OH/S).
Outlook: The Colorado volleyball scene is better with Stetson an active part, and the Trojans are expected to bounce back in 2015 with some Grade A talent. Wetterstrom and Berger form a dynamic 1-2 punch, but LHS also has a strong newcomer in Storaci, who played at Silver Creek last year. The inexperience in the middle is the team’s biggest area of question, but defensively Stetson believes the squad is stellar.
LONGMONT CHRISTIAN WARRIORS
Coach: Kami Puchino (2nd year)
Last year: 6-14 overall, 2-10 Class 2A/1A Mile High League
Returning starters: Katelee Dugan (Sr., OH); Maddie Lehnherr (So., MB); Abbey Moore-Kneipp (Jr., MB); Sarah Robbins (Sr., S); Anna Stair (Sr., S).
Others to watch: Rebekah Flowers (Sr., OH); Emma Moore (So., L).
Outlook: A late-in-the-preseason coaching change last year had the Warriors off-kilter pretty much from the start, but Puchino is excited that she has gotten to work with the girls in non-game settings. She believes the leadership of the team will help get through tight contests they may have dropped last year. Stair and Moore-Kneipp will be heavily relied upon.
Coach: Mason Johnson (1st year)
Last year: 19-4 overall, 11-1 Class 2A/1A Mile High League
Returning starters: Jessica Boxrud (Sr., S); Ashlyn Christiansen (Sr., MB); Erika Ivkov (Sr., OH); Meagan Keen (Sr., OH).
Others to watch: Kylen Christiansen (Fr., RS/S); Maddi Maguire (Jr., RS/S); Sarah Stevelinck (So., L).
Outlook: Lyons looked like a team bound for state for a second straight year, but district play proved tough and ended the Lions’ season abruptly. The team has several components — everywhere on the court — that make them contenders again in league. Ivkov is a tough hitter to stop, and the blocks will be a big part of the team’s success. Johnson said the sky is the limit for this squad.
Coach: Michael Dumler (1st year)
Last year: 21-6 overall, 13-1 Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Sydney Blackburn (Sr., OH/DS); Macy Bourn (Jr., OH/DS); Bailey Irwin (RS/DS); Makayla Morton (Jr., OH); Delaney Overlin (Jr., S/DS); Kaylee Wilburn (Jr., MB).
Others to watch: None.
Outlook: The Mavericks have a good group of varsity players returning from a team that had a tough draw at the state tournament, but Mead is eager to get back to that position with a new coach. Dumler said he has seen inconsistencies typical of a young team, but that they should be better by season’s end.
Coach: Katie Erickson (3rd year)
Last year: 13-12 overall, 5-7 Front Range League
Returning starters: Rachel Arrotta (So., OH); Cate Daniels (Sr., S/RS); Katherine Huntington (Sr., RS/MB); Sophie Wingert (JR., MB).
Others to watch: Jenny Kelly (Jr., L); Anna Prior (Jr., MB); Rachel Williams (Sr., S).
Outlook: With a crop of returning players who have been at the varsity level for multiple seasons, the Coyotes will continue to be competitive within the league. Erickson views the offense as a lot more powerful, with size and a couple of savvy setters. Wingert is a solid blocker and server, and MoHi will look for development in their overall reads on defense.
Coach: Shelby Nation (2nd year)
Last year: 3-17 overall, 2-11 Class 2A/1A Mile High League
Returning starters: Jessica Gloe (Sr., OH); Katie Jewell (Sr., OH).
Others to watch: Addie Jacoby (Sr., MB); Chloe Lindstrom (Jr., L); Brie Sineini (Jr., S); Karen Sorokach (So., MB).
Outlook: Nation took over the program last year with the idea that she was going to get players in the program who are invested, and so far this year she’s seen a remarkable amount of growth in the program. Players started doing open gym work in April, and the level of cohesiveness is something she believes can lead to more wins.
Coach: Preston Brown (5th year)
Last year: 20-7 overall, 11-1 Northern League
Returning starters: Sarah Falk (Jr., OH/MB); Mackenzie Fidelak (So., OPP/OH/S).
Others to watch: Ashley Bradbury (Fr., OH/RS); Brynn Chavez (Jr., S); Courtney Smoljan (Jr., L/DS); Hana Hemstreet (Jr., S); Jesse Conser (Sr., DS/L); Julia Stephenson (So., RS/MB); Linnea Butler (Jr., RS); Megan Degarate (Sr., MB/OH); Mikayla Houseman (Sr., MB).
Outlook: Niwot may have lost a premier player in Cory Kirschling, but the Cougars have size, speed and athleticism that will be tough to contend with in the Northern League. Brown said he felt more comfortable running a deeper bench, too, and that will include even a couple more JV/Varsity swing players he’ll want to grow in-season. Fidelak may be a focus of many a team, but Falk is ready to roll as a future Division I-capable athlete.
PEAK TO PEAK PUMAS
Coach: Pam Bergeland (5th year)
Last year: 19-6 overall, 8-2 Class 3A Metro League
Returning starters: Haley Frederking (So., L); Madison Graham (Sr., MB); Calli Hilvitz (Sr., RS); Sarah Sparling (Sr., OH); MacKenzie Stout (Sr., MB); Kailee Yano (Jr., S).
Others to watch: None.
Outlook: Unfortunate circumstances prevented the Pumas from getting past regionals last year, but Bergeland firmly believes a healthy squad will get past that and into state this year. Frederking proved herself as an exceptional defensive player her freshman season, and Yano will be back in a role as the exclusive setter.
SHINING MOUNTAIN LIONS
Coach: Mike Hawkes (1st year)
Last year: 8-10 overall, 4-4 Class 1A 5280 League
Returning starters: Melissa Chilson (Jr., MB); Rosie Gershman (Sr., S); Nayana Morrissey (Sr., MB); Katharine Wilson (Sr., OH).
Others to watch: Emma Beal (Fr., OH); Sarah Bogen (Jr., S); Erin Ellinwood (Jr., Util.); Alexa Espana (Fr., S); Sophie Fairmount (So., OH); Amrita Shore (Fr., DS).
Outlook: Hawkes, the school’s athletic director and girls basketball coach, is taking over a program looking to get everyone on the same page. Fundamental work on passing and serving has been emphasized, as has communication with a number of freshmen expected to contribute right away. Wilson does present a reliable attacker for the squad to build around.
SILVER CREEK RAPTORS
Coach: Jill Olson (2nd year)
Last year: 9-14 overall, 5-7 Northern League
Returning starters: Kelsey Adams (Jr., OH).
Others to watch: Rylee Anderson (So., OH); Taylor Merriman (Jr., OH); Chloe Olson (Jr., MB); Tori Schindler (Jr., MB); Madi Stouder (Jr., RS); McKenna Webster (Jr., S).
Outlook: A good summer of indoor and outdoor play has built this young group up, and the Raptors are hoping that will foster improvement in the tough Northern. Olson is expecting Anderson to come on and play a big role based a lot on her athleticism alone, and with a cast of mostly juniors, the future looks bright.
Coach: Will Rozum (8th year)
Last year: 6-17 overall, 3-11 Tri-Valley League
Returning starters: Kelsey Robison (Sr., S).
Others to watch: Maddie Koenigseker (So., OH); Marisol Montes (Jr., OH); Laura Staiano (Sr., RS).
Outlook: With just one returning starter present, Rozum said the team’s focus is steady improvement with the hope that they can get the wins they are supposed while catching some teams off-guard when the chance presents itself. The Falcons want to be known as a strong defensive team, and if they can get passing down Robison will get the chance to set up the hitters effectively.
TWIN PEAKS TIMBERWOLVES
Coach: Adina Primer (2nd year)
Last year: 3-14 overall, 2-10 Class 2A/1A Mile High League
Returning starters: None.
Others to watch: Daisy Gurrola (Jr., OH); Hannah Hansen (Jr., S/OH); Anahi Rivera (So., DS/Util.).
Outlook: There is a lot of development to be had among the Timberwolves contingent this year, and Primer said she is looking for daily improvement in defense and offense while maintaining a strong serve. Primer is also stoked about the middle school base that serves as the feeder system, with strong coaches getting the fundamentals in earlier than before.
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