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Optimism abounds for Glenwood volleyball team

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs
Kelley Cox Post Independent
ALL |

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The first word out of Leah Mansfield’s mouth when sizing up the state of Glenwood Springs volleyball: fantastic.

“I think we’re going to have a real strong team this year,” senior Kehau Vegas chimed in. “We have a lot of devoted players.”

Clearly, optimism is high in the Glenwood gym. With good reason.



The Demons are welcoming a new coach to the fold. That would be 2004 Glenwood graduate Amber Sutherland, who is returning to her alma mater after a collegiate volleyball career at the University of Colorado.

The Demons are also employing a new attitude. Gone are the cliques and in-fighting that players said spelled disaster last fall in the form of a 4-15 regular season record.



“Our team, we’re best friends,” said Mansfield, a senior. “Last year, we had a division of groups. This year, we have a lot of strong players, so we play as one group instead of like half.”

Mansfield and her teammates hope that translates into victories.

Mansfield and Vegas, a transfer from Basalt High School, are members of a six-senior group that Sutherland anticipates will provide leadership. Taryn Pearce, Kelsey Warkentin, Gennie Bean and Stevie Wittet round out the veteran bunch.

And they’ll be leading a team they have the utmost confidence in.

“Everyone has their individual skill,” Mansfield said. “I don’t think we have one weak player. We have a strong team and a strong bench, so that’s what’s going to make us really good this year.”

Time will tell just how good.

“There are a lot of good things about this group,” Sutherland said. “They’re very athletic. They have a lot of promise.”

Early indications point to a better future for Rifle volleyball.

The Bears have a new, well-credentialed coach in Heather Sulkowski, who’s amassed seven years of collegiate coaching experience at three schools and was most recently the head coach at Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C.

Rifle is also coming off its best season in recent history, going 7-12 overall last fall and winning their first league matches in some five years.

And they graduated only three seniors from last year’s team.

“I am very excited about what we’ve accomplished in the little bit of time we’ve been practicing,” Sulkowksi said. “Most of all, I’d have to say they’ve been very good at following directions and they’re excited about learning new things. I couldn’t ask for more in that regard.”

Leading the 2009 Bears will be the senior foursome of Kalli Leigh, Brianna Bascom, Abby Rath and Lauren Martin.

And they’ll be leading “not just as far as skill but as far as leadership,” Sulkowski said.

“They’ve been doing all the little things,” the coach added. “Like making sure people are all on time, or that they’re hustling and running from the huddles. Things like that. It’s a huge help in that we’re trying to incorporates new ideas, a new scheme all the way around.”

A new scheme Sulkowski hopes will turn things around for the Bears.

jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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