Former prep stars all over the court
Two other former area prep standouts – Jenni Hirneisen and Leah Hinkey – have also made their way on to Division I college volleyball rosters.Hirneisen, a 2002 Grand Valley High graduate, earned a place on Colorado State’s current team after spending the spring and summer as a walk-on candidate.”It takes a lot of courage for someone to come into a Division I program in the middle of their career like Jenni did. She kept hanging in there and improving during the summer,” said Rams head coach Tom Hilbert of Hirneisen.Attending CSU was a no-brainer for Hirneisen after obtaining her A.A. degree from Northeastern Community College.”I was going to come here because I want to major in Animal Science,” she said. Volleyball was a factor, too.”It was always in the back of my mind. I wanted to get back into it,” said Hirneisen. And she had the credentials to make the jump to college volleyball in place. Hirneisen was a two-year starter at Northeastern. In her JC career, she helped the school’s volleyball team to back-to-back consecutive top 15 national rankings in 2003 and 2004.Hirneisen admitted she “felt like I was walking on eggshells,” in her opening CSU training sessions this Spring. Once those nerves subsided, Hirneisen improved.She was asked to play with the team at Spring tournaments, then continued to practice and workout with the rest of the Rams throughout the summer. “By summer, I was pretty confident,” Hirneisen said. While Hirneisen had yet to earn a spot on the roster, her background and play had impressed Hilbert.”We have a lot of rural-area kids on the team,” he said. “Jeni showed us those same kind of values. I like those kind of kids.”Those elements earned Hirneisen a jersey and a permanent spot on the team.Hirneisen is listed as a defensive specialist and has made an appearance in all of the Rams’ matches to date.On the other side of the U.S., Leah Hinkey has established herself as a key player for the University of Tennessee’s volleyball team.Inking a full-ride scholarship prior to her senior season last year with Glenwood Springs High School, Hinkey rapidly earned her way to a starting spot as one of the Lady Vols’ outside hitters. As a freshman, Hinkey has started in all six of UT’s matches to date and is among the team leaders in kills and blocks
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