League and team outlook
Front Range League
Teams and trends: Boulder, Broomfield, Fairview, Fort Collins, Fossil Ridge, Greeley West, Horizon, Legacy, Loveland, Monarch, Mountain Range, Poudre, Rocky Mountain. Fossil Ridge has either won the conference title outright or shared it in each of the past seven seasons.
2018 league leaders: Kills: Riley Zuhn, Fossil Ridge, 353; Hitting percentage: Mataya Megson, Fossil Ridge, .442; Assists: Kiki Mayes, Rocky Mountain, 734; Aces: Rachel Lambrecht, Fossil Ridge, 73*; Blocks: Lauren Strain, Horizon, 158*; Digs: Annika Larson, Rocky Mountain, 666.
Numbers game: The Fossil Ridge offense may take a bit of a hit with the top three players in kills gone from last season. Mataya Megson and Riley Zuhn were also in the top 10 in hitting percentage in the state of Colorado and are gone, so the Sabercats will need some new players to step in … Broomfield’s Vicki Fankell is the top returning player in kills from the league with 279. She has steadily improved the number of kills per season each year for the Eagles … The league loses eight of the top 10 players in digs, so it will be intriguing to see which players will emerge on the back line of defense. The top player back in that category is Sara Szulinski of Horizon (326).
* Projected returning player for 2019.
Coach: Kyle Rhatigan
The Scorecard: Rhatigan is excited to see eight returning starters and eight seniors on the roster this year, hoping the experience will lead to more wins. Jordan Warner returns as the setter (194 assists) and will be joined by Taylor Overy, Ainsley Duffield and Piper Elbogen-Peterson. More importantly, the team is focused on implementing a team-first mentality in order to play in the tough Front Range League. “Our players want to focus on trusting each other, playing for each other, and creating a unique culture for Boulder High volleyball of our own,” Rhatigan said.
Coach: Bob Knox
The Scorecard: Broomfield finished one game below .500 but also had some success in conference play with a 7-5 record in the Front Range League. This year, the goal is to get a winning record for the first time since 2014 and another trip to a regional tournament to try and secure a bid to state. Vicki Fankell was huge for the team last year with 279 kills and should be another top player in the league. The Eagles do graduate five seniors but should have another big senior class leading the way in 2019.
Coach: Odette Edbrooke
The Scorecard: The Knights welcome Odette Edbrooke, a former assistant coach with the team, as the head coach. She will look to help the team improve in the Front Range League after an 8-win season a year ago. A couple of players back include leading hitter Grace Andrews (126 kills) and Maura Sharp (75). Kea Veenendaal is a returning middle hitter and Sam Anthony, the libero last year, may see a move to the setter spot. Odette expects some young players to help fill the other holes and says she knows many of the players as they are younger siblings of former players she worked with as an assistant coach before.
Coach: Nicole Coffey
The Scorecard: A late run of wins in conference play to close the regular season secured Legacy a trip to a regional tournament last year. The Lightning were led by a large senior class with a handful of juniors and underclassmen filling the rotation. As a result, the team will see some new players emerge as they try to get back to the postseason. Madison Crow could see a larger role on offense and will be a leader looking to help some newcomers this year. With a tough league, the Lightning will have to prove that their depth will be strong enough to get them back to the postseason this year.
Coach: Jen Dixon
The Scorecard: The Coyotes will have a different look this season. Dixon and her staff loses 10 seniors to graduation from the 2018 season, so many new and younger players will be called on. Emma Kennedy and Erin Stricker were players on the varsity roster last season that are back, and Dixon added Molly Pelech and Sophie Kubiak as other players to watch. Overall, the team may be in a rebuilding mode with such a different roster, but the team is one she believes is anxious to prove their worth. “We have eager players to step on the floor for varsity,” Dixon said.
Teams and trends: Centaurus, Greeley Central, Longmont, Mountain View, Niwot, Northridge, Silver Creek, Thompson Valley. Two of 2018’s Final Four teams in the Class 4A state tournament came from the league (Longmont, Niwot)
2018 league leaders: Kills: Caitlin Volkmann, Silver Creek, 552*; Hitting percentage: Emma Falk, Niwot, .401; Assists: Annika Wetterstrom, Longmont, 871; Aces: Audrey Richard, Niwot and Abbie McCrimmon*, Thompson Valley, 54; Blocks: Zoe Gonzales, Niwot, 95; Digs: Ellen Goodwin, Longmont, 515.
Numbers game: Caitlin Volkmann was the state kills leader, but don’t sleep on teammate Megan Sotiroff to follow up a strong freshman season where she recorded 219 kills, especially if Volkmann receives the most attention from opposing teams … Preseason polls have Longmont ranked one spot higher than Niwot, which may be due to them not losing as many statistical leaders from 2018 as Niwot does. Payton Jonason has 311 kills coming back and will be joined up front by Ada Grace Creighton (165 kills) and Caroline Demosthenes (163) … Unless some major changes occur, look for Longmont, Niwot and Silver Creek to compete for the league title.
*Projected returning player for 2019
Coach: CJ Rabinowitz
The Scorecard: The first year under coach CJ Rabinowitz resulted in Centaurus navigating bumps in the road and registering five wins despite a tough stretch in the Northern League. Unfortunately, the team graduated a huge senior class and will have to rely on some young players to come in and help turn the page this year. The Warriors had a fairly balanced attack with five players recording double-digit kills and could see that with Tess Jason setting up the attack. A young team may continue to feel some growing pains in league play, but Rabinowitz is hopeful the team can take another positive step forward.
Coach: Holli Stetson
The Scorecard: A big milestone could be accomplished this year in Longmont. Stetson, who is entering her 18th season as the head coach for the Trojans, currently has a career record of 286-91. Win No. 300 could come behind returning starters Payton Jonason, Ada Grace Creighton and Caroline Demosthenes, as well as varsity veterans Bridget Kusbel, Maddi Jonason, Emily Foraker and Emily Widhalm. In addition to her 300th career win, Stetson feels the team has enough talent to make it back to the Denver Coliseum for state.
Coach: Daisha Ahgo
The Scorecard: Niwot climbed its way to the state championship match with Lewis-Palmer behind a deep senior class. Now, they are tasked with filling those gaps this year. Outside hitters Tasha Terekhova and Zoe Gibbs will be the leaders Ahgo plans to lean on as they are some of the more experienced players from the state runner-up team. Senior Abby Kaus, junior MacKenzie Demmel and freshmen Varshini Panuganti Lola Diasabeygunawardena should also step in and help. Ahgo believes if the chemistry can come together with this group, their league and schedule will help them prepare to play at the level needed to compete in the postseason yet again.
Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: John Miller
The Scorecard: One thing first-year head coach John Miller has to help him at Silver Creek is Caitlin Volkmann, who could not often be stopped as a hitter and finished with 552 kills. Megan Sotiroff was the only other player with triple-digit kills at 214 last year and she also returns, forming a solid one-two punch on offense up front. Olivia Nelson and Alyssa Bennett were two leaders on the defensive side and should play a big role in that department again. Overall, the Raptors feel they have the talent to get back to state, and they hope that they will head to the state tournament healthy compared to some of the things that came up late in the season a year ago.
4A/5A Tri-Valley League
Teams and trends: Berthoud, Erie, Fort Morgan, Frederick, Holy Family, Mead, Roosevelt, Skyline, Windsor#. After finishing just behind the top tier teams in the league the past couple of seasons, Windsor shot to the top in 2018 with an 8-0 league record.
2018 league leaders: Kills: Ali Travis, Holy Family, 473; Hitting percentage: Dorie Moore, Roosevelt, .360; Assists: Carly Trostel, Holy Family, 1,034*; Aces: Travis, Holy Family, 70; Blocks: Moore, Roosevelt, 106; Digs: Peyton Frank, Holy Family, 679*.
Numbers game: Windsor, Holy Family and Mead could be primed for a close race to the top of the league standings. All three were against their other league foes last year and only lose a couple of seniors each, though they are big statistical losses from last year … Berthoud lost eight of 10 games going into a matchup with Skyline on Oct. 20 but suddenly caught fire, making a run to the state tournament and even upsetting Mead in the first round there. They also return nearly their entire roster and will look to sustain success during the regular season … It was a rough welcome to the Tri-Valley League for Fort Morgan, who re-joined the league last year. Brenna Reagan was a bright spot with 221 assists, 78 digs, 52 kills, 17 aces and 14 blocks, putting her in the top three in each category for the team.
*Projected returning player for 2019. #Plays 5A postseason.
Coach: Molly Creek
The Scorecard: The Tigers are looking to establish a new identity this season as they will only return three starters from last season. Two of those starters, Jess Amend (setter) and Addy Huber (outside hitter) are committed to play at the collegiate level. Kate Sebesta is another outside hitter that returns. Finding the leaders on defense will be a point of emphasis as the team graduated players that recorded 79 percent of their digs and 70 percent of blocks last year. Creek sees a focused group looking to repeat similar success in a competitive Tri-Valley League this year.
Coach: Suzanne Robison
The Scorecard: It was a tale of two halves to the season last year for Frederick. The Warriors opened the season with an eight-game winning streak and won 13 of their first 14 matches. The season would end, however, with losses in 10 of their final 11. Still, the team returns five starters that helped them reach a regional tournament in 2018. Gilligan Ridgley, Leilani Purcell, Abby Awad and Kinley Lindhardt return as the top hitters from a season ago while Ashlyn Grant-Miller will be the top defensive player to return. Where the Warriors do lack height, Robison says her team makes up for it with scrappy play and determination.
Holy Family Tigers
Coach: Krista Solomon
The Scorecard: One benefit the Tigers have this season is that they will return most of their roster from the team that finished second in the Tri-Valley League and reached the semifinal round in the state tournament. Solomon says another big help were some freshmen who saw plenty of experience last year that are back for their sophomore season. Anna Hodell was second on the team in kills and could play a bigger role in the offense this year. Peyton Frank, Carly Trostel and Bianca Eldridge are expected to anchor the defense in their senior season. In addition to making a run at state, Holy Family is looking to win the Tri-Valley League after finishing second to Windsor during the regular season.
Coach: Mikayla Martinez
The Scorecard: The Mavericks are excited to welcome back Mikayla Martinez, a 2014 graduate and former volleyball player for Mead, as the head coach. She inherits a team that will see many starters return from a 22-6 season and state tournament appearance, and with it comes a top 10 ranking in the CHSAA preseason polls. Some young players that were a critical part of the team’s success like Quincey Coyle and Hailee Martinez return, as do veterans Kenzie Morton, Phoenix Wilke and Abigail Sprague. Look for Mead to make another push to state and try to redeem themselves after a 1-2 finish at the Denver Coliseum.
Coach: Susan Karimi
The Scorecard: The Falcons made improvement in Karimi’s second year with the team, going from one win in 2017 to eight last season. There will be some turnover with six seniors graduating, but the team does return some key players in seniors Jenny Dunder (MB/OH), Molly Hennessy (OH), Sophia Lindauer (MB/OH), Abigail Stoops (OH/RS) and Samantha Karimi (L/DS). These veterans leaders are ones Karimi hopes will take another step forward this year. In addition to the leadership, the Falcons also see the most numbers for their program in recent years, something she credits to the coaching staff and the outreach in Longmont the program has done in recent years.
Teams and trends: Colorado Academy, Faith Christian, Jefferson Academy, Kent Denver, Machebeuf Bishop, Manual, Peak to Peak, Prospect Ridge Academy, Lutheran, Skyview, Stargate, St. Mary’s Academy. After playing for the state title and coming up short against Eaton in 2017, Lutheran won the Class 3A state championship in 2018 over Colorado Springs Christian 3-1.
2018 league leaders: Kills: Payton Brgoch, Lutheran, 434*; Hitting percentage: Brgoch, Lutheran, .515*; Assists: Adrianna Casados, Bishop Machebeuf, 596; Aces: Casados, Bishop Machebeuf, 85; Blocks: Brgoch, Lutheran, 108*; Digs: Casados, Bishop Machebeuf, 391.
Numbers game: In just its third varsity season, Prospect Ridge Academy made it to the state tournament, in large part due to their seniors. Setter Addie Freedle (332 assists) and Sierra Leopold (123 kills, 60 aces) will look to keep the team rising this season … Payton Brgoch had a huge season at the net and finished second in the state of Colorado in hitting percentage and 12th in kills … Graduate Adrianna Casados led Bishop Machebeuf last year, but Sonia Casados, Lizzy Luebbers and Vanessa Burciaga, each of whom had triple-digit kills and digs as well, could help the Buffaloes continue to rise up the standings and make a postseason push this year.
*Projected returning player for 2019.
Jefferson Academy Jaguars
Coach: Kyrie Adams
The Scorecard: The Jaguars will welcome new head coach Kyrie Adams to the program this fall as they look to build off a six-win season in 2018. Logan Mahnke has emerged as a top hitter for the Jaguars in Adams’ mind and will team up with other hitters Aaliyah Robinson and Haylee Floyd. On defense, the Jaguars will also see a key component back in libero Lydia Thurman. Overall, Jefferson Academy is hoping a senior-loaded presence will help them navigate through a deep Metro League.
Peak to Peak Pumas
Coach: Chris Cranor
The Scorecard: The Pumas have a strong senior offense core back with hitters Anna Sparling, Paige McSavaney and Isabelle Pollock to go with senior setter Calla Winner. Cranor believes his offensive hitters could put up big numbers this season. On defense, the team will be younger but see some promising up-and-comers in Sophie Kiehl, Paris Kiehl and libero Sarah McLaughlin. With the veteran leadership and work done this past summer, the Pumas are hoping for a big payoff and improvement from their 8-15 record in 2018.
Prospect Ridge Academy Miners
Coach: Rachel Renville
The Scorecard: One of the feel-good stories in the BoCoPreps region last year was a young varsity program in Prospect Ridge Academy making it to the state tournament. It is something this Miners team hopes to repeat and create a new tradition in attending frequently. They will be led by new head coach Rachel Renville and will see five key seniors gone from 2018. Sadie Rudd and Chloe Brown are the two senior leaders this year and they will also have juniors Bella Heinmiller and Sierra Leopold joining them. Getting back to state will be a tall task, but it’s one the team is fired up in trying to accomplish.
2A/1A Mile High League
Teams and trends: Clear Creek, Dawson, Dayspring Christian Academy, Denver Christian, Front Range Christian, Gilpin County, Heritage Christian, Longmont Christian#, Lyons, Nederland, Twin Peaks, Union Colony. Denver Christian, who joined the league last year, stole the show by going undefeated in league play during the regular season and playing for the Class 2A state championship.
2018 league leaders: Taylor Maguire, Lyons, 481*; Hitting percentage: Olivia Himmel, Highland, .414; Assists: Angelina Sala, Dawson, 860*; Aces: Rylee Nickodemus, Heritage Christian, 97; Blocks: Mayson Fago, Union Colony, 112*; Digs: Alyssa Winter, Highland, 552*.
Numbers game: Will Union Colony take the next step in the league this year? Mayson Fago led the team with 393 kills, 112 blocks and 383 digs last year and is projected as one of the top stars back in the conference that could help them rise… Highland came one win short of state and will graduate players that recorded 78 percent of their kills last year, but a couple of good pieces remain in Maiya Dehoyos (470 assists) and Serinady Segura (274 digs) to give them another shot… That said, Denver Christian will still be the team to beat with Jacki Bogner (379 kills) and Anna Kaemingk (304) on the attack. They are the only team in the league with two players that recorded more than 300 kills back this year.
*Projected returning player for 2019. #Plays 1A postseason
Coach: Brandy Martin
The Scorecard: The Mustangs are coming off a season where they came one win short at the regional tournament from qualifying for state. Brandy Martin takes over as the new head coach this fall and inherits a team with many key players returning from last year. Angelina Sala led Class 2A with 82 aces while top defensive players Nicole Scribner (490 digs), Ari Guzzi (155) and Isabella Jurika (126) are also back. Dawson will be without Kiki Porrey for the season due to an injury, but they hope enough talent is back to get another crack at the postseason.
Longmont Christian Warriors
Coach: Shea Skryzpek
The Scorecard: Longmont Christian once again welcomes in a new coach, but Shea Skrzypek feels she will be around to help build up the program. A coach who has worked at the club level, this will be her first head coaching position at the high school ranks. The Warriors will have middle blockers Samantha Johnson and Taylor Vandenburg back to lead the way. The goal is to take a step forward together. “The first foot step is to change the culture,” Skrzypek said. “They really need a coach that is needing to step up for them, and I feel I’ve stepped in to help these girls and now we’re putting our foot down to turn some heads.”
Coach: Heather Evans
The Scorecard: The Lions will begin the season ranked No. 5 in the CHSAA preseason volleyball polls in Class 2A and are looking to try and reach the state tournament for the third straight year, but the team suffered an early loss in Taylor Maguire. The leader in Class 2A in kills (481) is out with an ACL injury. Charlotte Rogers now returns as the team leader in kills with 144. Evans is looking for senior libero Jesse Bartel to lead a group of six returners. One thing Evans knows about her group is that regardless of the result, they will fight on the court. “This team doesn’t quit and ‘no’ isn’t in their vocabulary,” Evans said.
Coach: Suzie Muldoone
The Scorecard: Suzie Muldoone comes in and takes over for the Nederland program, replacing former coach Julianna Kellner. She takes over for a team that is trying to improve in the Mile High League after going just 1-14 in conference play. A young team last year will gain plenty of experience with players like Sydney Nation and Ellie Brewer returning. With the bulk of their schedule coming in the league, the Panthers hope their experience coming back will see them climb up the standings.
Twin Peaks Timberwolves
Coach: Colleen Finlayson
The Scorecard: Colleen Finlayson will be tasked with taking over the Timberwolves program this fall. To find more success overall and in the Mile High League, her first task is to replace six seniors that are gone. Sydney Stevenson was a regular in the rotation and should be a senior leader for the team, while some young players who got a taste of varsity play are expected to fill the holes left by the seniors. The team must also improve in playing on the road since all six wins in 2018 came on their home court.
Teams and trends: Bellview Christian, Beth Eden Baptist, Denver Jewish Day, Denver Waldorf, Flatirons Academy, Front Range Baptist, Mile High Academy, Rocky Mountain Lutheran, Shining Mountain. Despite having teams with success and getting to host a regional tournament each year, the league has not had a team compete at the state volleyball tournament in history, according to CHSAA’s state volleyball tournament history archive.
2018 league leaders: Kills: Ava Ahalt, Denver Waldorf, 412; Hitting percentage: Ahalt, Denver Waldorf, .474; Assists: Alexie Pearson, Denver Waldorf, 620*; Aces: Tallulah Martin, Denver Waldorf, 86; Blocks: Ahalt, Denver Waldorf, 63; Digs: Ahalt, Denver Waldorf, 344.
Numbers game: Denver Waldorf had a big senior class last year to lead them to an 18-5 record, but this year, they must replace players that recorded 96 percent of kills, 79 percent of aces, 85 percent of digs and all 117 blocks. The one thing they have returning is leading setter Alexie Pearson with 620 of the team’s 783 assists … The leading player in kills coming back this year is Sara Torres of Bellview Christian with 119. The next is just 79 kills from Amber Bates of Front Range Baptist. We’ll see which new hitters emerge in the league … Sara Torres did a little bit of everything for Bellview Christian last year, finishing second on the team in digs (244), assists (197) and kills (119). Look for her to fill the stat sheet again as the Bruins try to win the league title in 2019.
Shining Mountain Lions
Coach: Kaiya Whitehead
The Scorecard: Former player Kaiya Whitehead returns to Shining Mountain to take over as the new head coach for the upcoming season and will retain former head coach Mike Hawkes as an assistant. Whitehead says the focus this year is to improve against league opponents as they went 1-7 in conference play last year. Natasha Gromicko, Frances Hilliard, Olivia Jabari, Kalea Zeender and Sophia Matarrese all return as starters and Whitehead added newcomer Anna Gromicko as a player to watch. “We are focusing on building our mental game and adjusting the definition of a ‘win’,” Whitehead said. “Our goal is to play our best game on our side of the net and the impact that has on the scoreboard is secondary.”
Bringing it home: recent state champions
2018 — Valor Christian (5A), Lewis-Palmer (4A), Lutheran (3A), Yuma (2A), Kit Carson (1A).
2017 — Castle View (5A), Lewis-Palmer (4A), Eaton (3A), Lyons (2A), Kit Carson (1A).
2016 — Fossil Ridge (5A), Lewis-Palmer (4A), Eaton (3A), Dayspring Christian (2A), Fleming (1A).
2015 — Cherokee Trail (5A), Cheyenne Mountain (4A), Eaton (3A), Yuma (2A), Otis (1A).
2014 — Grandview (5A), Lewis-Palmer (4A), Eaton (3A), Resurrection Christian (2A), Fleming (1A).
2013 — Grandview (5A), Lewis-Palmer (4A), Eaton (3A), Resurrection Christian (2A), Fleming (1A).
Point me to the postseason
RPI will be used in volleyball to help determine regional playoff fields for Class 2A through 5A after the regular season while Class 1A will field eight regional tournaments with teams determined by district tournaments the week before. Teams will work through district and regional tournaments by Nov. 9, and the state tournament will be held at the Denver Coliseum on Nov. 14-16.