The high school girls volleyball season began this month at schools across the state.
West Valley Preps and the Glendale and Peoria Independent asked local high school coaches about their teams. Here are their responses.
Coach: Anthony Puglisi (ninth year)
2020 Record: 8-8 (4A first round)
Region: 4A West Valley
Top returning players: Senior Rylie Henige, junior Rylea Simmonich, junior Katie Beehler, junior Amanda Lauer and senior Leah John
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? Rylan Gompf
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? We have some veterans including juniors and seniors who have been on Varsity since their freshman years. Ready to win and work hard.
Which teams on this season’s schedule are you most looking forward to and will be the toughest? Notre Dame Prep, Deer Valley and Greenway are always exciting games.
What are the primary goals for this year’s team? We would like to continue to grow as athletes and student athletes. Focusing on personal growth and sportsmanship are huge goals for us this year.
Coach: Becca Ellis (Second season)
2020 Record: 9-5 (5A first round)
Region: 5A Northwest
Top returning players: Raeli Smith (junior, 6-0) she’s an up-and-coming player in the Valley. She was utilized last year predominately as a middle and hoping this year to make her a more of an offensive threat. Laeli Lee (senior, 5-9) right side attacker. She has a heavy fast arm swing that took other teams by surprise last year. She has become more consistent in the off season and we are looking to use her more in the front row. Kira Federico (junior, 5-7) she was a standout libero for the team last year. She has improved in the off season and can’t wait to see her improve even more during the tough season.
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? A newcomer to the program is Layla Czernin (senior, 5-11), she is California transfer with roots to Centennial. Her mom was part of the first Centennial volleyball championship team. She will be a middle attacker with good court awareness and different ways to be the ball away.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? We are senior leadership heavy. I believe this is a positive because they are playing with everything they have. They want to end their high school career on the highest note and are stepping up to the challenge every day in practice. They are buying in to the coaching staff and what we want to accomplish.
Which teams on this season’s schedule are you most looking forward to and will be the toughest? I am looking forward to playing Verrado because we lost a five-game thriller/heartbreaker for us last year. This game has had a lasting impression on ways to be better and I want to prove it. To coach against one of the longest acting head coaches and tough school, Horizon. This is a challenge because of the deep root of great volleyball they have! They will be tough and so will Sunrise Mountain.
What are the primary goals for this year’s team? Our goals this year is to be accountable on and off the court. We are looking to be consistent and accountable for the team and be there as a teammate. Physical goal: Be more aggressive defensively among all levels. We worked a lot on defense over the summer and trying to build a better mind set that everything is going to be playable.
Coach: Jackie Wallace (16th year)
2020 Record: 13-3 (4A quarterfinals)
Region: 4A West Valley
Top returning players: Emee Fellens, Liz Rupp, Lily Gentz, Sam Gloria, Amanda Hardt, Gabby Gloria and Alana Barajas
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? Lola Duvey- a L/DS from Seattle and Azlynn Vasquez L/DS, Alyssa Buruato-S.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Even though we lost 6 seniors last year, we have another senior laden group again (11 seniors) this year who are ready to compete.
Which teams on this season’s schedule are you most looking forward to and will be the toughest? Looking forward to all of our competition
Coach: Lisa Lopez (7th year)
2020 Record: 12-8 (5A quarterfinals)
Region: 5A Northwest
Top returning players: Madison Hidalgo and Mariah Hall should see significant court time as they are returning varsity players and are bringing experience along with leadership skills with them.
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? Our two youngest members of the team, Victoria White, who played on varsity last year and Sedona Anderson, first year varsity. Both are sophomores and have been working extremely hard in the off season which has showed during open gyms and workouts. Senior, Ruby Beeson is a first year varsity player but her commitment to working out and improving her skills has made a huge impact so far.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Their eagerness to learn. We have five returning varsity players and eight new players. They have been vey receptive and open to new positions and have been excited to learn about one another.
Which teams on this season’s schedule are you most looking forward to and will be the toughest? Our region always brings tough competition. Ironwood and Centennial is entering our 15th year of collaborating together for our Dig Pink match. This always turns into a special night to honor and remember those loved ones who have been affected by cancer.
Which teams on this season’s schedule are you most looking forward to and will be the toughest? To become closer as a team; to recognize and capitalize on our strengths and improve on our weaknesses. To continue to move forward during state competition and to have fun while doing this.
Coach: Ashley Leparulo (third year)
2020 Record: 10-9 (6A first round)
Region: 6A Desert Valley
Top returning players: All our returners this year are top players. We have five seniors, and three underclassmen returners so we are looking for them to all step up.
Who are some varsity newcomers that may have an impact this year? Our newcomers that are looking to make an impact are junior Maggie Newbern, junior Mia Petcu, sophomore Trinity Williams and freshman Tristen Raymond.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? This team’s best attribute is their willingness to put in the work needed to be successful in drills and game play. Each practice they put their heads down and get the job done.
Which teams on this season’s schedule are you most looking forward to and will be the toughest? We look forward to every team on our schedule. We are going into the season knowing that each night is going to be a battle. Any team is beatable, and we hope to keep the “ego” and emotion of playing any specific school out of our game and focusing on winning.
What are the primary goals for this year’s team? The goals for our team this year are to push one another to be their best on and off the court, be intentional with their play and to be limitless on their effort.
Coach: Christina Jensen (second year)
2020 Record: 4-13 (6A first round)
Region: 6A Desert Valley
Top returning players: I have a very strong crew of seniors returning to Varsity this season. Amelia Busch is a three-year varsity player and one of the best all around players on our team. She is a captain this year and has stepped naturally into a leadership role. She will have a major impact on our season again this year. Lauren Von Aspen is in her second year at Mountain Ridge and is an exceptional athlete. She is the first one in the gym every day, and the last one to leave. She will never be out-worked on the court. Ella Simon is in her second year as a varsity player and can be the most intense player on the net. She is quick at reading and moving along the net, and has a smart eye for open court with her attacks. She is a fantastic leader for the program as a whole. She is the first to welcome any new player into the gym and has taken a few incoming freshman under her wing. Her impact will last long beyond this season. Canyon Cockrell, our libero is in her third Varsity season and is looking sharp and ready for her senior year. Canyon is a key part of the positivity and energy that drives this program forward. She works hard, reads the court well and has a great intensity that carries over to other players in the program.
Who are some varsity newcomers that may have an impact this year? Brooklyn Long is a freshman in our program and already a huge force on the court. She has excellent court awareness and is very versatile along the net. She has a great work ethic and has already earned the respect of her upperclassmen with her effort and energy. She is going to be a long standing part of what makes this program excel. Vianna Garcia is a sophomore, first-year varsity player, but she is one of the most consistent players on our court. She leads by example.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? We adopted the Olympic team slogan this season of “12 Strong.” It is rare to have a group of 12 young women who truly respect each other and all work hard for the common goal of their team. They support and strengthen each other in practice and in matches. I am truly impressed at the maturity and balance we have on our young team.
Which teams on this season’s schedule are you most looking forward to and will be the toughest? We always look forward to matches against district rival Sandra Day O’Connor. There is a lot of passion in those games and the crowd really gets into those matches. They are always tough, but great matches. We are really looking forward to every match. We worked hard last season and came up with a couple big wins to help build our confidence as a program and this year we are looking to continue that progress forward. There are a lot of great programs and great players in this state and we look forward to the challenge that each one will bring us.
What are the primary goals for this year’s team? Our primary goal this season is building a positive culture. We can grow and learn so much more when we acknowledge our achievements and build upon our success together. Our varsity slogan is 12 strong, but our whole program is 43 strong. Each team builds and supports the others and within the team we all celebrate each other’s successes. If we can establish this culture in the next year or two and maintain it as we move forward, the rest will come.