Ralston Valley retooling after back-to-back historic seasons

Dennis Pleuss
Jeffco Public Schools
Posted 8/30/22

DENVER — Ralston Valley girls volleyball coach Ashley Ahlman knows she has her work cutout for her this season.

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Ralston Valley retooling after back-to-back historic seasons


DENVER — Ralston Valley girls volleyball coach Ashley Ahlman knows she has her work cutout for her this season.

“It’s going to be a lot of coaching,” Ahlman said with a smile and laugh after the Mustangs’ season opener Tuesday, Aug. 23, at D’Evelyn. “We’ll see how good of a coach I am this year.”

Ahlman has put Ralston Valley into the position of a perennial state title contender over the past few seasons. The Mustangs have a combined record of 43-5 the past two years that included deep runs in the Class 5A state tournament. 

“I think it’s always in the back of your head,” Ahlman said of the recent success on the court for the Mustangs. “For this group it’s important to have them focused on one day at a time. We can be contenders at state, but we have to focus on doing the things today that will set us up to doing it at state.”

Ralston Valley graduated seven seniors, including its top three hitters and setter Emerson Reinke. Reinke finished off her remarkable career with 2,617 assists.

“She (Emerson Reinke) is hard to replace. She is a next-level setter,” Ahlman said. “It’s a new season with new challenges. We miss all of our graduated seniors, but it’s a new group and we have a really strong freshman class that I’m excited about.”

The Mustangs — No. 9 in the CHSAANow.com 5A rankings — were excited after a 3-1 road victory Tuesday against D’Evelyn. Ralston Valley took a 25-23, 25-21, 24-26, 25-19 win against the solid 4A Jeffco squad.

“I was really excited,” Ralston Valley junior Paige Brickle said about the opener. “We have a lot young players. I think this group came in hungry and ready. We were expecting to play our game and play smart. I think we did.”

Brickle led the way with a game-high 13 kills, including coming up big to close out the first and second sets. Freshman Rylee Sonnenfeld and senior Gabby Daake shared the setting duties in the first game without Reinke in that position in four seasons.

Ahlman was impressed with Sonnefeld, who finished with 18 assists, seven kills and four aces. 

“I thought we had a lot of people set up,” Ahlman said. “That was good to see.”

D’Evelyn did put up a great fight. The Jaguars led by juniors Jordan Laraway and Macy Scheer held off a pair of match points in the third set to eventually force a fourth set. 

“I asked them between games 3 and 4 to just want the ball,” Ahlman said

Ralston Valley jumped out to a quick lead in the fourth, but the Jaguars (0-2 record) rallied to make it a close before the Mustangs finished off the victory with a 25-19 win in the final set.

“I learned that there is a lot of work to be done,” Ahlman said. “When you have kids who haven’t played on a varsity court before the game seems a lot faster. There is a lot going on.”

Leadership is what Brickle really wants to bring to the court this season being on the final pieces remaining from the back-to-back squads that had long state tournament runs.

“I think if you can communicate on the court and bring everyone together it’s golden,” Brickle said.

The junior also wants to bring back the 5A Jeffco League title back to Ralston Valley (2-0). No. 2 Valor Christian (2-0) handed the Mustangs their lone conference loss last season to take the league title.

Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.


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