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Volleyball preview: Cheyenne Mountain being all but handed 4A crown
1. Pine Creek
1. Cheyenne Mountain
1. St. Mary’s
Who said the 4A volleyball season was about to start? Seems like it’s already over. Cancel the preview. And crown the 2011 4A state champion Cheyenne Mountain Indians …
“Yeah, expectations are high,” laughed Cheyenne Mountain 4A tournament MVP Janae Vander Ploeg.
Senior Vander Ploeg and her three-year running state champ Indians haven’t lost a 4A match since 2008. In fact, last year they only dropped two sets all year in 4A. Two out of 85.
The fourth-year varsity player says it all builds up to bigger and higher expectations.
“A lot of people won’t come to our regular-season home games, because they just expect us to make it to state,” Vander Ploeg said. “So they say they’ll just come to that.”
Littered with people or not, Cheyenne Mountain opens up against Rampart on Thursday. A team it swept 3-0 in the opening match last year.
While crediting much of Cheyenne Mountain’s success to extensive exposure in club play, first-year Rampart coach Nancy Pellow doesn’t see Cheyenne Mountain’s fortunes changing any time soon.
“The reality is they are so talented that I don’t think anyone can beat them,” Pellow said. “It’s one thing to want to, and it’s another if you can. … I don’t think there is anyone around here with the talent to be able to do it.”
Coming into opening day, Cheyenne Mountain coach David Barkley brings back three first-team 4A all-state players in outside hitter Vander Ploeg, outside hitter Hannah Huffman and setter Monique Domme. And one who gained all-state honorable mention in middle blocker Emma Barkley.
All four of them are potential first-team all-state for the 2011 season. Barkley says the depth from there is outstanding.
“This is the deepest team I’ve had here — one to 14, they all can play,” Barkley said. “So if one of my starters is having an off day, I don’t have to hesitate to put somebody else in cause they’ll be strong coming off the bench.”
The coach knows however, a talented, deep team only looks nice in say a preview story, in the paper. But taking that talent and making it do what a lot of people expect is different all together.
“Even though we have a lot of talent that doesn’t mean you win, it never means you win,” Barkley said. “The one thing in common with the three teams that won state is that they were on the same page, really reaching for the same goal, and willing to sacrifice self for the team.”
As the season looms, it’s all smiles for the Indians right now. They rotate players in-and-out of practice — and interviews. And while the humble players say their goal is to take it one step at a time, even they crack at times, and admit anything but winning state would be a letdown.
Now, they just have to play.
“We feed off the (expectations) and it motivates us,” Domme said. “It’s fun being the team that wins all the time. We just have to keep getting better.”