Fall preview: Rams build on experience gained last year | PostIndependent.com

Fall preview: Rams build on experience gained last year

Members of the Roaring Fork Rams volleyball team work on ball skills during the second of two-a-day practices Monday. The Lady Rams open the season Sept. 4-5 at the Glenwood Springs Invitational.
John Stroud | Post Independent



Head coach: Nick Forbes (third season)

Last season: 13-2 overall, 8-0 Class 3A Western Slope League. Won league title; lost to Peak to Peak 4-3 in the second round of state playoffs after beating Roosevelt 6-0 in the first round.

Key returners: Aaron Palomera, Sr., forward; Gustavo Oliva, Sr., forward; Colin O’Gorman, Sr., goalie.

Others to watch: From a roster of 42, Forbes’ biggest yet, “take your pick.”

Outlook: Roaring Fork won the 3A Western Slope League title outright last season, going 13-2 overall and 8-0 in league play with no ties. The Rams lost several players from that team to graduation but do have some key returners including senior Aaron Palomera at forward, “who is looking quite serious this year,” according to coach Forbes. “Senior Gustavo Oliva, also at forward, has had a great start as well, and senior goalie Colin O’Gorman is returning with a high level of experience.”


Head coach: Jennifer Dority (third season)

Last season: 7-14 overall, 5-9 Class 3A Western Slope League, finishing sixth out of eight teams and ending their season at the league tournament.

Key returners: Madilyn Kuhl, Sr., OH/DS; Grace Brown, Sr., OH/DS; Lily Ramos, Jr., OH/DS; Ashley Hall, Jr., S; Jazmin Lopez, Jr., S; Lyndsay Hansen, Jr., MH.

Others to watch: Katie Weimer, Jr., OH/MH; Dani Minor, Sr., OH/MH.

Outlook: A young and inexperienced Rams volleyball team with no seniors struggled through the 2014 campaign, but this season looks to build on the experience several younger players were able to gain as a result. “This year they have all this talent and have grown into their bodies, and are ready to blossom,” coach Dority says.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Post Independent this week is previewing fall sports at Garfield County’s high schools — Glenwood Springs Monday, Rifle on Tuesday, Roaring Fork today, Coal Ridge Thursday and Grand Valley Friday. Friday also features our annual football preview section.

Several players who were considered young and inexperienced last season return this year for the Roaring Fork High School volleyball and soccer teams, but with slightly different tastes in their mouths about the 2014 campaign.

Both teams have an appetite to win this year as a result, though, the Rams volleyball team after a tough season that served as a learning experience, and the Rams soccer team after one of its best seasons ever.

Roaring Fork soccer, under the direction of third-year coach Nick Forbes this year, had a banner season last fall, going 13-2 overall and winning the 3A Western Slope League with a perfect 8-0 record. The Rams advanced in the postseason with a 6-0 first-round win over Roosevelt, but lost in the next round in overtime, 4-3, to perennial powerhouse Peak to Peak.

Despite the loss of several key players from that team to graduation, Forbes is looking to the senior leadership this year of forwards Aaron Palomera and Gustavo Oliva and goalie Colin O’Gorman to anchor the team.

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“All three have shown great leadership thus far and are hungry to repeat last year’s disciplined approach,” Forbes said. “We have a lot of seniors to replace from that team, but I’m confident that we have the talent and ability to do that.”

With a roster of 42 players this season, Forbes’ biggest ever in his three years at the Rams’ helm, it’s a virtual toss-up as to who could step into a starting role on varsity, he said.

The large roster also affords the benefit of having a C-team in addition to the junior varsity squad, which will help with developing the younger players.

“We still have most of our varsity positions to fill, so it’s a puzzle of sorts,” Forbes said. “Any of these kids looks like they have something to add to the team.

“I have been continually impressed with the team’s focus and demeanor throughout the preseason and am looking forward to start the games,” he said.

Third-year Rams volleyball coach Jennifer Dority is ready to build on the experience gained by several talented players who were thrust into a starting role last year due to the team’s relative youth.

“We were so young and inexperienced last year, and didn’t have any seniors to fill that leadership role,” Dority said. “I can already see that they’ve gotten over that giddy insecurity.

“This year, they have all this talent and have grown into their bodies, and are ready to blossom,” she said.

Dority is assisted this year by Dennis Sunderland, who brings 30 years of volleyball playing and coaching experience to the Rams’ court side.

“He’s my security blanket,” Dority said.

Roaring Fork managed to win five 3A Western Slope League matches last year despite its youthful inexperience, and look to improve on that this fall.

“It could be anybody’s league, really,” Dority said. “I think you’re going to see some teams flip-flop after some staffing and player changes.”

Still, she looks to Olathe, Coal Ridge and Grand Valley as the teams to beat.

The Rams varsity volleyball team opens the season Sept. 4-5 at the Glenwood Springs Demon Invitational, then takes a 10-day break before hosting Glenwood on Sept. 15 and beginning league play Sept. 17 at home against Aspen.

The Rams soccer teams starts off at home against league foe and Roaring Fork Valley rival Aspen on Sept. 8, followed by Rifle and Grand Valley at home on Sept. 10 and 15, respectively.

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