Fall prep sports preview: Vail Mountain School volleyball
Gore Rangers begin new season with new coach
For a senior class beginning a season under their third different head coach in four seasons, Aspen Stuedemann is wise to get her priorities straight.
“Our focus this year in strongly set on team unity, character, and excellence,” the new head coach stated.
“We have an incredibly strong group of leaders taking the helm this year, and they are willing to go above and beyond for the VMS program as a whole.” After Whitney Armistead guided the ship from 2015-2019, Paige Waymire led the Gore Rangers to a 7-12 record last season. The 2022 season kicks off Aug. 27 at Highland before coming home for the league opener against Grand Valley Sept. 1.
“I am absolutely stoked to be joining the Gore Rangers this year,” stated Stuedemann.
“Lizzy Reed and Abby Lundvall are great co-coaches and are returning with many strengths that are going to elevate our program to new levels. Preseason has been exciting and our girls are working towards success already.”
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The Gore Rangers graduated four seniors from 2021’s team, which finished ninth in the 1A/2A Western Slope League standings: defensive specialist Zoe Harrison, middle blocker Cloe Cunningham, setter blocker Grace Linafelter — their three captains — and outside hitter Eva Thomas.
“The seniors were a great presence, but our current athletes are eager and preparing to fill those gaps with their own unique skills and attributes,” said Stuedemann.
Lilliana Tonazzi, now a senior, was second on the team in kills last season, followed by incoming juniors Elizabeth Pratt and Sage Evans. As a sophomore libero, Leslie Hernandez led the team in digs.
“We have strong players in every position, with great depth in the primaries and defensive specialist positions,” Stuedemann said, highlighting the group over any specific individuals.
In her first year at VMS, Stuedemann plans to “go back to the basics to build the strongest possible foundation through essential skills.”
Serving, receiving, attacking and defense, as well as building injury prevention will be key cornerstones to reinforcing a key philosophy of the coaching staff: managing their own side of the court.
“If we can manage our errors, be intentional with the ball, and control the gameplay from our side of the court, success is inevitable,” she said.
“We are also focusing on building strength and resiliency in all facets: physical, mental and emotional and interpersonal.”
Within the league, Meeker, which made the 2A state final four and boasted a 26-3 record, lost four seniors. VMS will host the Cowboys on Sept. 9. The third-best league record belonged to Vail Christian, which lost two seniors. Last year, the Gore Rangers took down the Saints.
“We love playing local opponents which fill our gym with fans — both home fans and opposing fans. Meeker is also a great game as we are typically similar teams,” Stuedemann said.
“As a new head coach I am looking forward to matching up with the teams on our schedule, putting our practice into play, and seeing what we are capable of.”