ARVADA — Just three months ago, Ralston Valley volleyball players walked out the doors of the World Arena in Colorado Springs holding their heads high after a Class 5A state semifinal loss. …
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ARVADA — Just three months ago, Ralston Valley volleyball players walked out the doors of the World Arena in Colorado Springs holding their heads high after a Class 5A state semifinal loss.
“It’s a fast turn-around and a completely different team,” Ralston Valley coach Ashley Ahlman said after a straight-set victory (25-8, 25-14, 25-16) over D’Evelyn on Aug. 20 to open the Fall 2021 season. “It’s hard because you are still trying to celebrate the last season, but also look forward to what is to come. It was fast for sure.”
Ralston Valley — No. 8 in the CHSAANow.com 5A girls volleyball preseason rankings — got out to a fast start against D’Evelyn. Sophomore Maddy Dominick’s serving helped get the Mustangs out to a 4-0 lead in the first two sets.
Senior setter Emerson Reinke spread the wealth on her way to 27 assists. Seniors Molly Lutz, Laney Kelly and sophomore Paige Brickle had seven kills each to lead the Mustangs.
“We have a lot of new players, but we have a lot of young players so it was good to be able to jump right back into a season,” Reinke said of the quick turnaround from last year’s COVID season that pushed girls volleyball from the Fall into the Spring. “We had a lot of time over the summer to train. We had a lot of workouts. We are ready to go.”
The Mustangs had their most successful season in the program’s history during the Season C early last spring. Ralston Valley went 17-1, won the Class 5A Jeffco League title and advanced to the 5A state semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Rampart.
Ralston Valley graduated a handful of seniors, but do return three key seniors from last season’s team in Reinke, Morgan McChesney and Jordan Wisner. McChesney led the team in blocks last spring and Reinke proved to be one of the best setters in the state with 525 assists and was an All-State 5A second-team selection.
“Emerson is awesome. She has been my setter for every volleyball season I’ve ever played since I was 11 years old,” said McChesney, who had 4 kills, 5 service aces and a pair of blocks against D’Evelyn. “She always knows how to get the team up even if we are down or keep us up when we are up.”
Ralston Valley actually trailed early in the third set with D’Evelyn jumping out to a 4-1 lead, but Reinke took control to get the Mustangs back on track to close out the match in three sets.
“As a setter you have a lot of control,” said Reinke who was key as Ralston Valley reeled off five straight points after D’Evelyn held a 7-6 lead in the third set. “In those type of situations it is super important for me to score.”
Ahlman is looking to McChesney, Reinke and Wisner to lead the new mix of players that includes seven seniors, two juniors and three sophomores.
“We have three solid players who are also solid leaders,” Ahlman said of McChesney, Reinke and Wisner. “I’m excited to see them step into that senior leadership role. I think they can make a huge different with these younger players to get them to the next level.”
McChesney is excited to see what this season will bring for the Mustangs.
“We just have to push each other, especially the underclassmen,” McChesney said of taking a leadership role. “You have to let them know they are on the team for a reason and let them know that age doesn’t matter. Everyone will put in the same amount of work.”
Ralston Valley were schedule to be back on the court Tuesday, Aug. 24, with the Mustangs traveling to Broomfield to face the Eagles.
“I loved that group of girls,” Ahlman said looking back from last season. “But I love this group of girls just as much. I’m super excited to see what they can do. Different isn’t always bad. This is the new Ralston Valley legacy that these girls are working hard to exceed expectations.”
D’Evelyn is coming off a 8-6 season where a pair of 4A Jeffco League losses to Evergreen and Golden kept the Jaguars out of the regional playoffs.
Seniors Anna Day, Gianella Veltri, along with junior Jordan Laraway and sophomore Macy Scheer are four key returners for the Jaguars that hope to be in the mix for the 4A Jeffco League title once league play begins in late September.
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.
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