CRHS team eyes playoff run |

CRHS team eyes playoff run

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Kelley Cox Post Independent

PEACH VALLEY ” Coal Ridge came within two points of making the playoffs for the first time in the school’s volleyball history.

The Titans’ loss to Olathe in last year’s Class 3A District 2 Tournament final lingers in the minds of the players as they set out to build on what may have been the best sports season by any Coal Ridge team in 2007.

Under coach Denise Greene, the Titans went 18-6 and finished second behind Basalt with an 11-3 record in the 3A Western Slope League.

It was, undeniably, an impressive season, especially considering it came from a squad that won just two league matches the previous year.

And Greene’s Titans lost just two seniors to graduation over the offseason.

Back for Coal Ridge are outside hitter Chloe Nelson, one of the area’s best attackers, setter Sierra Grove and Libero Kelly Romero. All are seniors and were big players in last year’s success.

Also returning is junior Tessa Wells, sophomore Jessica West and senior Jessica Needham, senior Britney Smith and senior Brittany Smith.

The last two names aren’t typos. They really have names different only in the way they’re spelled.

“They have nicknames, so we just go with that,” Greene joked.

Names aside, the Titans are focused on putting that loss to Olathe behind them.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the team’s summer regimen. Coal Ridge put in as much gym time as possible to ensure its season will see a different ending in 2008.

“They are very determined to advance further,” Greene said. “They were in a lot over the summer, getting us ahead of the game a little bit.”

CARBONDALE ” Carrie Shultz unexpectedly inherited a Roaring Fork volleyball team last year when head coach Sarah Hyatt left the team midway through the season.

She paired up with Hyatt’s assistant, Jennifer Olson, to get the Rams through its late-season games. Olson talked her into it.

The experience proved pleasant enough to lure Shultz, who won two state titles during her high school days in Ohio and went on to play collegiate volleyball at the University of Pittsburgh, back to the court.

“I decided, after helping out last year, that there was just too much potential in the gym to look the other way,” said Shultz, who in addition to her credentials as a player worked a three-year stint as an assistant coach at Duquesne University. “They’re coming around. It’s a pretty young team, a young program.”

Shultz has a solid nucleus to work with at Roaring Fork, including returners Maria Flores, a senior, and sophomore Landon Garvik.

A bunch of promising youngsters ” the team will have five sophomores contributing big minutes ” should complement a sturdy core, and is giving Shultz hope for a strong showing by the Rams.

“I took this job for the potential,” she said. “It’s exciting to see it all come together.”

PARACHUTE ” David Walck won a lot of matches as Rangely’s coach the last 12 years. And he hopes to win his fair share as Grand Valley’s new coach.

But it might take some time.

The Cardinals have struggled in recent years and are welcoming their third different coach in as many seasons.

Fundamentals work and the implementation of Walck’s system have occupied Grand Valley’s time in the early going.

“The fundamental pieces are lacking a little bit,” the coach said of his new team, “game knowledge, different scenarios, what offense is best to run. Those types of things.”

Returning from last year to anchor the 2008 Cardinals are seniors Megan Hart and Brittney Garcia. Garcia, who’s putting in time at setter, didn’t play last season but did as a sophomore.

Also back are sophomore Samantha James, junior Caitlin Brady and a host of potential-laden talent Walck’s working to find spots for.

It may be a building process, but the former Rangely frontman thinks fortunes can change for Grand Valley volleyball if the players put their mind to it.

“We’ve taken a little motto ” ‘The Road to State in ’08,'” Walck relayed. “But they aren’t going to go to state by just walking into the gym. I told them, ‘You have a coach who’s had success, and I’m so excited to help you do this, but I’m a resource.’ They’re in the driver’s seat. You can’t coach desire and you can’t coach work ethic. These are things they have to bring to the table.”

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