Last year's Delta High School's Panther volleyball team finished the season at 20-7 with league and regional titles to show for the hard work players put in along the way. All the preparation and dedication resulted in a trip to state for valuable experience at the next level.
There are 24 athletes who will be striving to repeat the same efforts and a repeat of last season's successes.
For Beth Nelson, that feat may well be within reach even though graduation took some key players away.
The past summer was a positive experience for the team with good numbers at most activities.
Delta participated in tournament play in Durango and played well against teams. Nelson was excited the way her team played. "We played better than expected in Durango," noted Nelson. "The team has a great attitude and are striving to build a family atmosphere with a one-game-at-a-time mentality."
Nelson will receive excellent support from a coaching staff which includes Jessica Carlson, Lisa Rover, Holly Teyler-Crowder and Kayley Archuleta.
The Panthers will work to build a successful season with a core nucleus of players. All will contribute to the success of the team but the following athletes were tabbed by Nelson as key contributors.
Seniors Harlee Roberts (Libero) and Lexi Quinn (OH) are team captains who will be part of the glue holding an enthusiastic team together. Kat Rodriguez (RS/OH) and Elena Gilliam (MB) are also seniors providing leadership. Another senior, Alli Atchley will play OH/DS positions for Nelson's Panthers.
Junior Abby Carlson (S) and Lauren Davey (MB) add solid chemistry to the mix with sophomore outside hitter Sara Geddes figuring to be another important contributor.
The remaining varsity players include junior Mimi Lousignont (DS), sophomores Haylin McCulloch (S). Madison Gieck (OH/DS) and Julia Mewhinney (RS/MB).
This year's junior varsity squad includes Lousignont, McCulloch, Gieck, Mewhinney, sophomores Olivia Santonastaso (DS/RS), Kendyll Siettmann (RS/OH) and freshmen Hannah Sterns (MB), Alyssa Bayles (MB/)RS) and Jody Holgate (OH).
Nelson had plenty of excitement when she talked about her young freshmen squad. "I can't remember having this many freshmen out. It's good to have this much interest from them."
The Panthers will open their season at Gunnison in tournament play this Saturday, Sept. 2. Delta has its first home match Thursday, Sept. 7, against Montrose beginning at 4 p.m. for freshmen action.
Two fatal accidents occurred in Delta County within a two-day span last week.
Casey Gillenwater, 25, of Delta was killed the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 13, in a single-vehicle rollover on Highway 133 outside of Hotchkiss.