Setters key to heart of team success

Area players among state's best at `quarterbacking' position


If Peyton Manning played volleyball, he would be a setter.

Manning obviously plays quarterback for the Denver Broncos but he has all the assets of a good volleyball setter.

A setter needs to possess athletic ability, touch, leadership and the intelligence to make a team successful.

“Good setters are invaluable,” said Chaparral girls volleyball coach T.R. Ellis. “They are the offense. They are the quarterback, they run the team.”

Ponderosa coach Rob Graham takes the extra time to find and develop a setter.

“A lot of things make a good setter,” explained Graham. “When we look at setters we list three qualities. We list them in this order. We list head first, feet second and hands third… We want an intelligent player, we want a quick thinking player, and we want somebody that can understand the flow of volleyball.”

Ponderosa senior setter Becca Page was an All-Continental League selection and a Class 4A All-Stater last season.

“I definitely feel like a quarterback out there,” admitted Page. “To be a setter you kind of have to take the role of being a quarterback. You are the leader on the court, you dictate all the plays and you make sure the other players are doing their roles too.

“Before serve or receive I have 12 different plays. Every player on the court knows their plays and I'll just say play six. They run that play but in transition the hitters run their own.”

Page doesn't shout “Omaha” like Manning but finding a good volleyball quarterback can be difficult.

“The great ones are very hard to find,” said Graham. “We list that order because we believe we can train the hands. Players get the game or they don't, they have fast feet or they don't. We always say to be a great setter you have to have all three but you can still be a very, very good setter if you have two of three.”

Often most of the attention focused on a volleyball team starts with the hitters and defensive specialists.

“You have to be pretty selfish as a setter,” said Graham. “Everybody notices the big kill, everybody can see a big block or a great dig. But very few people understand the importance of the setter putting the ball in the same spot every time.

“The way I kind of look at the setter is they are not only the quarterback of the team but they are an extension of the coaching staff. They need to know where to go, when to go, and when to go to different players based on the rhythm of the game.”

Page doesn't get the attention like Manning but doesn't care.

“Setting is really one of the positions that doesn't get recognized because we are not the point scorers typically,” she said. “When I won All-State it showed people do recognize that the position is a very important. I love being a setter. I love touching the ball. Pretty much on the third play I'm guaranteed to touch the ball since I touch every second ball. And I'm short so I couldn't really play on the front row.”

Douglas County's Ally Clancy, a second team Class 5A All-State player, acknowledges there is pressure that goes with being a setter.

“At times there can be pressure,” said Clancy. “When you are winning, you get the glory, everybody is happy, everything is going good and everybody is so positive. But when you are losing and you are down points you can definitely see change in the duties of your job because as a quarterback you still have to maintain your positivity even if you don't have the reasons to be positive.

“It's a huge challenge because players are not going to be positive all the time. They are going to be in slumps and have bad attitudes. As a setter you have to maintain them as well as yourself even off court.

Page, the same as Clancy, is 5-foot-7. But both have excelled despite height limitations.

“In a perfect world we would like every player to be 6-foot,” said Graham. “In high school, you get the players you get. If we see a tall athlete, they all want to hit, but we try to convince them that they could be a good setter. If you are a 6-foot hitter, you are a dime a dozen. If you are a 6-foot setter you are a wanted commodity.”

Volleyball teams at a glance:


Coach: Jordan Wright

2013 Recap: The Warriors were 25-3 and finished second in the state tournament, losing to Grandview in the championship match. It was the best season in school history.

Top Returning Players: Meredith Corder, L, DS, Sr.; Anna Schellhorn, DS, Sr.; Justin Langas, MH, Sr.; Petra Sikorski, RS, S, Jr.

2014 Outlook: Wright begins her first season as Arapahoe coach and has good talent coming up to join the returning letter winners. "We will be changing a few things, all while keeping up with our traditions," said Wright. "We hope to make a run for the state tournament, reaching goals along the way."

Castle View

Coach: Amanda Malson

2013 Recap: The Sabercats were 5-6 in the Continental League and 15-12 overall. Castle View won its regional tournament to advance to state but lost in pool play in the Class 5A tourney.

Top Returning Players: Michaela Putnicki, OH, Soph.; Madison Laufenberg, OH, Sr.; Mackenzie Pettit, MB/MH, Sr.; Samantha Wheatley, L, Sr.

2014 Outlook: Laufenberg led the team and the league a year ago with 430 kills. Seven players on the 2013 roster were underclass players and Castle View is hoping to make a second straight trip to state.


Coach: T.R. Ellis

2013 Recap: The Wolverines, Class 5A State champs in 2010 and 2011, were 5-6 in the Continental League and 11-14 overall a year ago, dampening a streak of six seasons in which Chaparral compiled a 136-29 record.

Top Returning Players: Jordan Rosen, S, Sr.; Natalie Passeck, OH, Sr.; Grace Ditzenberger, MB, Sr.; Teryn Mills, L, Sr.; Taylor Sherman, OH, Sr.; Sarah Vang, OH, Jr.; Hannah Haines, DS, Jr.; Jasmine Schmidt, MB, Soph.

2014 Outlook: The Wolverines have a lot of returning players back from a disappointing season. "The players are really determined to get back to a winning season," said Ellis.

Cherry Creek

Coach: Sally Moos

2013 Recap: Creek was 5-2 in the Centennial League, 22-6 overall and regional champions. Half of the Bruins six losses came to Class 5A state champion Grandview, the team that ousted Creek in the Class 5A State semifinals.

Top Returning Players: Taylor Cooper, MH/MB, Sr.; Emily Fish, OH, Sr.; Shea Reilly, DS/L/, Sr.

2014 Outlook: A solid core of returning players makes the Bruins a team to watch again this season. Creek has won more than 20 matches each of the past seven seasons, going 162-39 for an 80.5 winning percentage.

Douglas County

Coach: Valerie Elliott

2013 Recap: The Huskies were 4-7 in the Continental League and 12-13 overall.

Top Returning Players: Ally Clancy, S, Sr.; Kyleigh Kappas, L, Jr.; Tyler Urban, MH, RS, Sr.; Mattison DeGarmo, OH, Sr.; Kelsey Ubben, MH, Sr.

2014 Outlook: It's been over seven seasons since the Huskies have posted a winning record but this could be the year with an experienced team returning.


Coach: Doug Schafer

2013 Recap: The Eagles were 4-7 in the Continental League and 12-13 overall. They failed to advance out of the regional tournament.

Top Returning Players: Courtney Hulla, RS/OH/MH, Sr.; Maddie McGuire, MH, Sr.; Emma Rumley, S, Jr.

2014 Outlook: Heritage, which won 11 league championships between 1976 and 1993, hopes to return to the state tournament for the second time in three seasons with this year's team.

Highlands Ranch

Coach: Lou Krauss

2013 Recap: The Falcons were 8-3 in the Continental League, 18-7 overall and saw their season end in the regional tournament.

Top Returning Players: Kelly Brunstein, MH, Sr. Shayli Siegfried, L, DS, Sr.

2014 Outlook: Brunstein's .301 hitting percentage was one of the best in the league and Siegfried is a solid defensive specialist. The Falcons had 11 underclass varsity players who saw varsity action last season.


Coach: Margaret Whalen

2013 Recap: The Lions were 1-10 in the Continental League and 6-16 overall.

Top Returning Players: Savannah Kirby, MH/OPP, Sr.; Emma Capra, OH, Sr.

2014 Outlook: Capra led the Lions in kills a year ago. Littleton hopes to put more victories in the win column for a program that has lost 104 matches over the past seven seasons.


Coach: Kate Winsor

2013 Recap: The Titans were fifth in the Continental League and finished with an 8-16 overall record.   

Top Returning Players: Kasie Gilfert, MB, Jr; Laura Willems, MB, Jr.; Sophie Brennan, S, Sr.; Makenna Berlinski, DS, Sr.; Rylee Busick, OH, Jr.

2014 Outlook: After playing well in two summer camps, hopes are high for the upcoming season. Legend was ranked eighth in the Class 5A CHSAA.Com preseason volleyball poll. "We are big and athletic this year and hope to compete at the top of the Continental League and at the state meet," Winsor said.


Coach: Alicia Oates

2013 Recap: The Lions were 25-3, won the Class 3A Metro League, and were district and regional champions and the Class 2A runner-up.

Top Returning Players: Chandler Sturms, OH, Sr.; Madi Arnell, S, Jr.

2014 Outlook: The Lions have seven girls back off last year's team but only two seniors in the program. Lutheran is a 3A school this year, but is expected to adjust nicely and was ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll.

"We will rely on ball control and a smart offense," said Oates. "We have a very tough schedule that could prepare us well for the postseason. We just need to remain focused on improvement and always being competitors."

Mountain Vista

Coach: Mary Millman

2013 Recap: The Golden Eagles tied for second in the Continental League with a 9-2 record and were 22-5 overall. Vista extended its season-high winning streak to 13 matches by winning the regional tournament but was ousted from pool play at the Class 5A state tournament after a loss to Cherry Creek.

Top Returning Players: Meagan McGuire, L, Sr.; Morgan McKean, RS/OH, Sr.

2014 Outlook: Millman, a former Gateway coach, begins her first season at Vista. McGuire averaged 12.3 digs a match last season and will help the Golden Eagles try to recover from losing seven seniors who were key contributors to the team's success.


Coach: Rob Graham

2013 Recap: The Mustangs, a Class 4A team, were second in the Continental League and advanced to the semifinals of the state tournament, eventually finishing third. Becca Page, Allison Smith and Camille Smith were All-League selections.

Top Returning Players: Becca Page, S, Sr.; Allison Smith, OH, Jr.; Ellise Lech, OH, Sr.; Camille Smith, MB, Jr.; Emily Banks, L, Sr.; Marisa Gibbons, MB, Jr.

2014 Outlook: Ponderosa lost only two seniors off last year's team. The team played in four summer tournaments, winning two and finishing second twice. The only losses were to 5A teams. The Mustangs were second in the CHSAA.Com preseason Class 4A rankings. "This should be an exciting year for Ponderosa volleyball," said Graham. "This is a seasoned, mature, veteran group that is hungry to not only make it back to state, but to bring the golden ball home."

Rock Canyon

Coach: Jamie Lynn Robitaille

2013 Recap: The Jaguars were winless in the Continental League at 0-11 and finished 5-18 overall.

Top Returning Players: Terryn Veres, OH/RS, Sr.; Harley Freeseman, RS, Soph.; Ellen Rich, S, Sr.; Morgan Stone, DS, Sr.; Lauren Chevaller, MB/RH, Sr.

2014 Outlook: Rock Canyon will be more experienced this season since there were only two seniors on last year's team.


Coach: Lindsay Selover

2013 Recap: The Grizzlies were 5-6 in the Continental League and 14-11 overall. ThunderRidge's season ended in the regional tournament.

Top Returning Players: Lauren Brown, MB, Sr.; Lexi Spadi, L, Sr.; Madison Meredith, MB/RS, Sr.; Christina Perlinger, RS/OH, Jr.; Taylor Olen, DS, Sr.

2014 Outlook: Selover, a ThunderRidge graduate and former volleyball player, assumes the head coaching reins from Kiersta Paul. She inherits a team that won the most games in the past seven years. Five players are back from last year's team.

Valor Christian

Coach: Tara Hittle

2013 Recap: The Eagles were 18-9 overall and lost in pool play of the Class 4A state tournament.

Top Returning Players: Cassidy Wurth, MH, Sr.; Kyleigh McDaniel, OH, Sr.; Megan Moritz, MB, Sr.; Savannah Cressman, L, Sr.

2014 Outlook: Hittle, the former Doherty head coach, takes over for Lars Nielsen. "This season we are aiming to accomplish big goals," said Hittle.

Note: All above information in the team capsules was gleaned from responses to a survey that was sent to all south metro area schools


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