Middle Park volleyball dominates in home-opener
After graduating five seniors in the spring, Middle Park volleyball is rebuilding and reloading this fall.
Last year, Middle Park had a strong core of upperclassman, and the team found great success throughout the season by compiling a 7-2 Frontier League record and securing a spot in the state tournament.
On Tuesday, the Panthers were fierce, returning to the court after the short offseason and cruising to a three-set victory vs. Denver West in Middle Park’s home-opener. This came after facing Steamboat Springs on the road.
“This team looks different from last year, and we definitely have a different strategy,” coach Kelly Friesen said of this year’s squad. “They are a great group of hardworking girls.”
Of course, a lot will be expected of seniors Liz Hammond and Meg McCauley. Two offensive powerhouses for the Panthers, Hammond is playing outside hitter and McCauley is playing a big hitting role this year as well. Both have huge experience playing varsity volleyball and will be relied upon to produce.
Another key for Middle Park this season will be junior Ellie Holinka, who is running the office setting for varsity. In the back row, senior Kayla McKibben returns as the team’s libero, or defensive specialist.
As many of the Panthers work their way into new roles, others are stepping up into more full time varsity roles.
“Senior middles Alison Fox and Serena Stuart were swing players last year, and I am excited for them this season,” Friesen said.
Additionally, juniors RJ Friesen and Aida Hester are new to varsity this year but should nicely boost the Panthers’ depth on defense. Sophia Gantt, a tall sophomore, is finding playing time on the right side of the court.
“This team really works together and does a great job staying mentally tough and focused,” Friesen said.
The Panthers return to the court Thursday night to face KIPP Denver before the Middle Park’s football game later that against Estes Park.
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