EDWARDS — They are not young any more.
OK, they are still kids in the grand scheme of things, but Vail Christian volleyball enters 2013 with some experience under its belt.
Graduation hits every school, but its impact is even greater at a school the size of Vail Christian. That showed last season, though the Saints, with a lot of young pups on the court, did manage an 11-13 record in 2012.
With league leaders Paonia and the Vail Mountain School getting hit by the aforementioned-graduation thing, the Saints could find themselves moving up in the 2A Slope this season. As the season progresses — the Saints will add two transfers at the halfway point — Vail Christian could have a deep and talented team.
As it stands now, the outside hitters are Taylor Alexander, Jesse Hartley, Amie Hixon, Ciera Heiden and Julia Vlaar. Not to single her out, but as a symbol of the team’s experience, young Heiden is the only fresh-person on the varsity.
While the above five will certainly rotate through the middle-block position, Kristen Currey and Celia Smith will be keys at that spot. Both seniors are interesting case studies.
“Krissy is a silent leader,” Saints head coach Cathy Alexander said. “She wants to win and is stepping up as a senior, and is doing very well. The whole group has a different dynamic (from last year). So far, in the almost two weeks of practice, they are very aggressive and willing to try new things.”
Smith is no stranger to the spotlight either. One of several good track and field athletes on the volleyball team — Taylor Alexander, Bella McCormick and Currey all have state-track medals — Smith has finished third twice in the 1A ranks of Colorado high jumping. And the Saints hope that talent will translate into middle blocking in the fall.
“She’s a senior, and she’s changing positions,” Cathy Alexander said. “That’s a difficult thing to do, but she’s doing it for the team and I’m very proud of her.”
McCormick is the libero, while Remy Beveridge is good as new after a knee injury from early basketball season last winter. She will be the setter. (And the sound you just heard was girls basketball coach Doug Bruce applauding.)
And come Sept. 24 against West Grand, transfers Sara Coulter and Baylee Wiemer become eligible, and Vail Christian will have multiple options.
As is traditional, the Saints won’t be huge. (Please remember that they only looked huge when alumna Ashlyn Gruber, Class of 2012, jumped.) Not a problem, says coach Alexander.
“I can tell you that we’re going to be a scrappy team,” she said.
Vail Christian opens the season a week from today at the Glenwood Springs tourney with Nucla and Lutheran.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.