The 2018 All West Valley Preps volleyball team

Centennial junior Ashley Lifgren hits the ball over the net against Sunrise Mountain on Oct. 16 at Centennial High School in Peoria. Lifgren is the 2018 West Valley Preps volleyball player of the year. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]

West Valley Preps

West Valley Preps has selected the top volleyball players in the Northwest Valley for the 2018 season.

This year we’re handling it like the teams do with their starting lineups. Six starters are introduced, then a libero substitutes in. Both our teams, therefore, will have 7 players.

Please note these positions may not be the exact role each player was in all season but it is a position they are listed for.

The teams are:

First team

OH — Ashley Lifgren, junior, Centennial
OH — Jessica Vargas, senior, Glendale Prep
OH — Reagan Hope, sophomore, Northwest Christian
RS — Kyley Pendgraft, senior, Shadow Ridge
MB — Savannah Davis, junior, Deer Valley
S — Anna Myers, senior, Valley Vista
L — Megan Flory, senior, Sunrise Mountain

Sunrise Mountain senior Megan Flory is our first team All West Valley Preps libero [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]

Second team

OH — McKenzie Wise, sophomore, Northwest Christian
OH — Tionna Hood, senior, Dysart
OH — Jordan Kress, junior, Mountain Ridge
RS — Brooklyn Casey, junior, Liberty
MB — Abby Cullotta, senior, Willow Canyon
S — Bailey Fuches, sophomore, Deer Valley
L — Somner Kasney, senior, Centennial

Liberty’s Brooklyn Casey hits the ball over the net against Mountain Ridge on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 at Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]

Underclassmen to watch:

Cactus: Kaeleigh Gibson, Soph., RS, Rylie Henige, Fr., MB; Centennial: Kennedy Farley, Soph., RS; Deer Valley: Maleah Reynolds, Soph., OH; Carsyn Schuh, Soph., L; Glendale Prep: Nicole Kao, Fr., RS; Nerin Valasakos, Soph., OH; Ironwood: Cristina Lopez, Soph., L; Kellis: Kylie Jeffries, Fr., OH, Victoria Rico, Soph., OH; Liberty: Kylie Davey, Fr., OH, Kaitlyn Neal, Fr., OH; Mountain Ridge: Madison Girnius, Soph., MB; Alissa Uhlenhop, Fr., MB; Northwest Christian: Molly Kipp, Soph., S; Peoria: Suzzanne Bigelow, Soph., MB; Sunrise Mountain: Adna Mehmedovic, Soph., MB; Valley Vista: Rylee Brown, Fr., OH, Aliyah Moore, Soph., OH; Willow Canyon: Kylie Ybarra, Soph., S.

Player of the Year

Ashley Lifgren, Centennial — ­ Lifgren is the choice for the second straight year, and by a bit wider margin this time around. If McKenzie Wise plays a full season, there may have been an argument. And both big hitters are back next year so that showdown could still happen. Then again, Lifgren keeps improving even though her college scholarship at Grand Canyon University was sealed before the season. As a junior, she was far more than the offensive machine that her 400 kills insinuate. Her .424 hitting percentage far exceeded the rest of the state’s top attackers. For comparison’s sake, Reagan Hope was fourth at .372. Lifgren also was second on her 5A quarterfinal team in digs (311) and third in blocks (41) and aces (30)

Runner-up: Jessica Vargas, Glendale Prep — There is no way Vargas was going to match Lifgren’s attacking percentage numbers. She and Valasakos represent about 3/4 of the Griffins’ offense. And as the competition increased in the 2A playoffs, Vargas took a larger role in the offense while playing a large role in the team’s trademark scrambling defense. Vargas checked all the boxes with 425 kills, 301 digs, 85 aces and 18 blocks. While the entire team maxed out, Vargas abilities carried Glendale Prep to its second title game appearance.

Glendale Prep’s Jessica Vargas hits the ball over the net against Trivium Prep on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018 at Glendale Preparatory Academy in Peoria. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]

Coach of the Year

Jen Roberge, Glendale Prep: Not many coaches in the West Valley face Roberge’s dilemma. Glendale Prep boasts several polished club players, but only nine players on the roster the coach’s balancing act never ends. Her approach has infused the program with a relentless approach that shows up in a defense. The Griffins beat several teams with more firepower and depth before running into an overloaded Scottsdale Christian team in the finals. Even so, almost taking a set off the Eagles was a tribute to the Glendale Prep’s ability to cover the court.

Runner-up: Matthew Overfelt, Willow Canyon: It is hard to build a volleyball program in this area. Cactus, Centennial, Deer Valley, Glendale Prep, Northwest Christian and Sunrise Mountain are always in the mix in their respective divisions and draw a healthy amount of top West Valley club players. Closer to home in Surprise, Shadow Ridge and Valley Vista have broken through as playoff teams in recent years. But thanks to its revitalization under Overfelt, it was Willow Canyon’s turn this season. At 21-12, the Wildcats had their first playoff appearance since 2008. And Willow Canyon seemed to clear the mental hurdle, believing it could compete with name-brand programs.

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