Packing plenty of power

Ponderosa looks to defend its state title

Posted 8/30/10

Ponderosa High School volleyball turned a powerhouse season into a Cinderella finish for the Class 5A state championship last year over Highlands …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Packing plenty of power

Ponderosa looks to defend its state title


Ponderosa High School volleyball turned a powerhouse season into a Cinderella finish for the Class 5A state championship last year over Highlands Ranch.

This season, with four returning starters from that team, other returning varsity and a reload of talent, the Mustangs could very well make another run at a follow-up championship. If they do, hard work will be the reason.

Ponderosa finished its 2009 trek with a 27-4 overall record, the Continental League title and the 5A bragging rights after a three-way tiebreaker to make the finals round.

Starting his 11th year as coach of the program, Rob Graham returns with four starting varsity players from last year returning to the net; senior setter Hannah Hoffman, senior outside hitter Catie Breaux, senior middle blocker Carly Boatwright and the Mustangs’ do-it-all player, senior Kelsye Van Denend.

“We have tremendous balance at every position,” Graham said. “Bringing back all-state players at the outside, setter and middle blocker position will help in the experience department.”

Hoffman, who earned first-team All-Continental honors and second-team All-State from, and All-State honorable mention from the Denver Post, in the team in assists per game last year. She said experience is always very helpful.

“We now know we can come back from a bad game and do what we came to do,” Hoffman said.

Breaux also earned first-team All-League honors and the same All-State honors as Hoffman. She led the team in kills last season and was among the top 10 in kills in the state. She said Ponderosa having a core of players from last year’s championship roster was most exciting, coming into the follow-up season. Breaux said the team’s disciple and hard work will be noticed on the court.

“We are disciplined with everything we do,” she said. “People should notice that we come out, work hard, disciplined, and we fight.

“[Opponents] know they will have to play their best game against us, just like we have to play our best against everyone else.”

Boatwright, who claimed the same honors from the All-State selections as the others, also picked up a second-team All-League nod. She led the team in blocks and was second in kills. Boatwright said the team’s competitive edge may be one of many things that defines it this season.

“We still strive to be one of the hardest working teams out there,” Boatwright said. “We just have a bit different dynamic with some different go-to players. … We’re learning to work with the different girls from last year.

“We can keep the rally going, and we can put some balls down.”

Boatwright has verbally committed to play the nets at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. With nothing to lose, she aspires to go out into the 2010 season and leave her best work on the floor.

Hoffman said the biggest change to the team is the starting lineup in the back with Samantha Stewart and libero Kendall Howard having both graduated, and there is an adjustment for Ponderosa to make there; however, the All-League setter feels a strong connection between all the girls coming to the team for the title defense.

“We’re willing to give of ourselves no matter what,” Hoffman said. “We’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

Van Denend agreed. She said with Graham’s drive to have the girls work hard with every single aspect of the game, the Mustangs have made it their top priority.

“We’re working hard in every single game,” she said. “That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Also to have an impact, among others, should be Taylor Stanley, a senior middle blocker who had a great summer and will add to Ponderosa’s already tough offense. Graham said she has the ability to be one of the best middle blocker’s in the league.

“We also have every player returning from our varsity roster last year except one [Kelly Morton, sophomore defensive specialist and libero],” Graham said. “Maturity, experience, confidence, team chemistry and a great work ethic should help this team do great things this year.”

Graham feels cross-town rivals Chaparral should be very tough this season. Regis is also very athletic, while Ranch has great coaching and is always expected in the mix. With ThunderRidge losing 11 seniors, they may be the one team truly rebuilding.

“Every other team in our league will always compete,” the coach said.


Arapahoe did well for itself as well in 2009, including not only an appearance in the 5A state championship tournament where there had been a drought, but also being a part of the three-way tie breaker that would have sent the Warriors into the finals.

After a 20-10 record last year, the Warriors should be led by seniors MacKenzie Marlow, Ashley Golden, Alex Fons, Catherine Cole and Mallory Holstein.

Leah Froehle and Kayla Van Hee return as juniors.


Always one of the toughest teams in the Continental League, the Wolverines of Chaparral return from their 22-7 record in 2009, which culminated into an appearance at the state championship tournament as well. Before making it to the final eight at the 5A dance, Chaparral walked away from last year with its district and regional championship titles.

This season, coach T.R. Ellis, 13 years as coach of the Wolverines and 28th year coaching overall, will have the talents of six of her returning varsity starters. Among them is senior middle blocker Anna Faul, who was first-team All-League last year and All-State honorable mention. Faul set new school records in blocking last season and is verbally committed to attend Ohio State. She is listed on AVCA’s Under Armor High School All-American watch list for the 2010-2011 season.

Senior setter-hitter Sky Johnson also returns after a second-team All-League nod. She will be the first four-year letter winner at Chaparral and is committed to playing at Ole Miss after graduation. She is also listed on AVCA’s Under Armor High School All-American watch list this year.

Senior Karlie Dalton, senior Audri Marrs Miller, junior Nicole Dalton and sophomore Ahren Moydell also return for another shot at success. Karlie Dalton played middle last year and will play RS this season. Miller is a middle blocker who is much improved from her junior year. She will play at Metro State next year.

Nicole Dalton is a setter and outside hitter who nabbed a first-team All-League and second-team All-State selection last year. She has been an All-American since her freshman year. Moydell is a defensive specialist and little sister to Mikinzie Moydell, last year’s All-State setter who is now playing with two-time national champs Penn State.

“We’re returning several high-profile players from last season,” Ellis said. “Big front line for attacking and blocking.”

Also expected to contribute among others is senior Aubrey Podsschweit, junior Emily Podschweit, Aubrey’s sister, and sophomore Maddie Thorpe. Aubrey Podschweit is a setter who moved to Chaparral from Iowa. She placed since in the High Performance Team 2 USA Beach National Tournament. Sister Emily is an outside hitter and was on USA Youth National Beach Doubles Team. She recently returned from three weeks in Russia playing and traing with the Misty May and the USA team. Thorpe is a defensive specialist who adds to the Wolverines’ already strong list of defenders.

“With the addition of the Pods sisters and the development of the super soph’s, we should have the ball control that we need to control the tempo and defend the court,” Ellis said. “We will have three amazing setters that run the court with authority and quick timing.”

Ellis also feels the Wolverines, Ponderosa and Highlands Ranch will be the top teams in the league, while Regis is expected to also be strong this year.

Cherry Creek

The state champions two years ago, Cherry Creek was 21-8 last season, finishing third in the Centennial League. They were 1-2 in state pool play and tied for fifth place.

Sally Moos returns as coach and with her comes four varsity starters in junior Victoria Kirkemo, senior Ali Weber, junior Corrine Din and Lauren Brady. Kirkemo was a second-team All-Centennial selection as an outside hitter. Weber received the same as a middle blocker. Din is back in the libero position, and Brady is a middle blocker back after a letter winning season last year.

Moos, who feels Eaglecrest, Arapahoe, Grandview and Cherokee Trail are the Centennial teams to beat this season, feels Creek will be rebuilding this year.

Highlands Ranch

Highlands Ranch put on one of the greatest shows in state volleyball in the 5A finals last season against Ponderosa, going five games and extra points before finishing as the state’s runner up.

Returning this season from last year’s team are seniors Paige Cooper, Margaret Siple, Kayla McFadden, Kristen Miller and Brogan Prior.

Breanna Wong should also be back for her junior outing.


Titans volleyball went 10-9 in its first varsity season last year. Legend finished third in the Pioneer League and qualified for the Class 3A state championship playoffs’ district tournament. Coach Katie Winsor is back to help the Titans improve on their exciting 2009 season, in her third year at Legend and three years prior at Smoky Hill.

Among returning varsity starters are sophomore Jamie Bredahl, who was named Pioneer League MVP her freshman year, juniors Dani Grever, Emily Baird and sophomore Alexis Boutin, each of whom were All-League last year, as well league honorable mention and sophomore Sydney Gephart and sophomore Courtney Boatwright.

Also expected to be a big help to the season is Kennedy Haup, a freshman middle hitter, and sophomore Madi McKay as a defensive specialist.

The biggest adversary for the Titans this season will more than likely be their bump to the Class 5A elite Continental League.

“We are only in our third year but have had successful seasons each year,” Winsor said. “We have mostly freshmen and sophomores in our program and only have four juniors on the varsity team. We will have our first class of seniors next year.”

Winsor said Ponderosa and Chaparral should be on top of the league this year, while Highlands Ranch should give quality competition, as well as Rock Canyon.


Returning to Littleton’s net this season should be seniors Colleen McAnallen, Christina Simms, Laura Whalen, Sydney Kramcha and Sarah Henning.

Filling out the varsity roster, among others, should be juniors Marilyn Drennan, Sydney Fitchett and Erin Cox, as well as sophomore Mylie Hiroaka.

Mountain Vista

Among the upper classmen who should be having a say on the Golden Eagles’ volleyball season are seniors Kendall Turner, Ellie Penland, Caitlin Young, Andrea Peters, Katie Yount and Alison Cole. Juniors Audrey Renton and Jennifer Wahleithner should be contributing heavily as well.

The biggest change to Mountain Vista this season is a new head coach in Lindsey Jaffe, who takes the reigns from Kevin Cary.

Rock Canyon

Chaparral had an exciting season in 2009, which culminated into an appearance in the Class 5A state championship Sweet 16 having advanced to regionals.

Under the coaching of Ashley Tussing in her third season with the Jags, Sierra Andersen returns to varsity as libero. She earned first-team All-League honors last year and had the most digs in her league and second most in the state. Also back is Sydney Hunter as a middle hitter-opposite. She was an All-League honorable mention and was third on the team in kills and first in blocks last season. Meghan Tietze also reemerges as a middle hitter. She was fourth in kills and second in blocks on last year’s team.

Among other players to have an impact are junior outside-middle hitter Lauren Hahn. this past summer, Hahn was a USA Volleyball high performance camp selection. Although she hasn’t been playing long, her performance over the last year was exponentially improved, Tussing said.

Lauren Pogue should also contribute in her freshman season as a setter. She has great hands and spreads her net well, the coach said. Already a leader, helping Jags hitters look good, Pogue is described as an offensive force, and as a setter, she becomes a complete package.

Senior opposite Tori Stutzman should also get some notice having recently moved from the middle to the outside. She should be huge on the block at 6 feet 2 inches tall. With a big right side block and the middle training she’s already received, Stutzman can be a quick tempo threat off the back side.

“Although many schools are deeming us the ‘underdog,’ I think we will surprise many teams,” Tussing said. “We lost a lot of talent in our 2010 seniors, but we have filled all the holes with equal talent and amazing drive and determination.

“We are young but focused. Rock Canyon is excited to take the step into the 5A league. We are ready to compete in the playoffs with the ‘Big Dogs’ we compete with in league play all year.”

Tussing expects Chaparral and Ponderosa to be strong this season with potential for taking the league title. Highlands Ranch and Mountain Vista may not have as much strength, she said, given the amount of senior athletes each lost last season.


ThunderRidge finished its 2009 campaign with a 12-10 record and was seventh in the Continental League. The Grizzlies have one returning starter this year in junior Andrea Roach who booked 53 kills and 20 stuff blocks as a sophomore.

Junior Paris Creed as an outside hitter, junior middle Taylor Heinemann and senior setter Dani Prewitt should be contributing heavily for T-Ridge in 2010.

“After losing 11 seniors, we will look to gain experience and confidence for our largely junior core,” coach Kiersta Paul, in her sixth year as coach, said.

She expects Chaparral to be dominant state wide.

Valor Christian

Valor Christian posted a 12-3 record last season and the championship title of the Pioneer League. The Eagles saw the end of their season in the regional tournament. Under the coaching once again of Lars Nielsen, Valor has four returning starters in junior outside hitter Kaylee Pierce, senior middle hitter Lindsay Stein, sophomore setter Samantha Baldwin and junior outside hitter-defensive specialist Whitney Walker.

Pierce was a first-team All-Conference selection last year as well as a Class 4A All-State honorable mention. Stein also picked up a first-team All-Conference nod. Baldwin received second team honors, while Walker has been All-Conference for the last two seasons.

Outside hitter Kate Gibson, as a freshman, and sophomore libero Clara Koeltzow are expected to do well this year for the Eagles, as well as a junior varsity standout Teagan Fast. Valor returns 10 letter winners total.

“This year’s schedule is designed to push the Eagles with having schedule top 5A programs Pine Creek, Regis and Columbine,” Nielsen said.


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.