Rifle, Glenwood have different goals | PostIndependent.com

Rifle, Glenwood have different goals

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

One word can describe how both area Class 4A high schools look at the start of the 2005 volleyball season: Driven.

A healthy Glenwood Springs squad wants to go deeper into the state volleyball tournament after a quicker-than-expected exit in an injury-plagued 2004 that hindered the Demons’ run for a championship game spot.

Rifle’s goal might not be as lofty as its league rivals, but it’s just as important.

After suffering through a winless year, the Bears are seeking respect among their Western Slope League opponents, along with a postseason playoff berth at the end of the regular season.

“A few reasons are driving that,” said Glenwood head coach Scott Nykirk of the Demons’ goals this year. “One, this is (the core group’s) senior year. That’s driving them to move past where they were before last year.”

And the team, at least at the beginning of the season, is injury-free.

“They can envision themselves as being as strong as anyone in the state,” Nykirk said. “Their common goal is to not only get to state, but to perform much better.”

The core group consists of seven seniors, many of whom have played together since middle school.

Leah Hinkey, who recently made a verbal commitment to play at the University of Tennessee, is set on the front line along with teammate Leanna Lawson. Backing them in familiar roles are Lisa Saathoff, Kristy Collins, Cheree Carver, Tobie Rippy and Courtney Sutherland.

And Nykirk ” a varsity assistant coach hired as the Demons head coach after Denise Greene took a similar post at nearby Coal Ridge High School ” knows there’s little need for tweaking a veteran squad.

“The tweaking really happened last year with the injuries,” he said.

“This year, (the girls) are back to the positions they were in, and they’re all excited to be back in the positions they’re used to.”

While the Demons are top-heavy with veterans, some newcomers and underclassmen could slip in for matches as the year progresses.

That list includes senior Keley Gauthier and sophomore Avery Denney as defensive specialists. Heather Smith might see playing time as a hitter along with Summer Sherman.

Another goal the Demons have this year is to regain the regular-season league title from ’04 champ Palisade.

“We’re going to have very good competition within our league,” Nykirk said. He points to a four-way battle for supremacy of the WSL between the Demons, Palisade, Steamboat and Battle Mountain.

Rifle absorbed a lot of lumps while going 0-18 in 2004. Most of that group, after a year of learning coach Geneva Farr’s system, are better prepared this year.

Brittanie Conrardy, an all-WSL honorable-mention choice, returns as the Bears setter. She will be joined on the floor by sisters Kelly and Kendra Mugford, both returning lettermen, with seniors Deborah Rausin and Callie Buchanan.

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