Volleyball tourney: time to seize the day

Column by Jim Benton
Posted 11/6/18

Colorado Mesa University volleyball standout Kasie Gilfert has a message that sounds simple for players who will be participating in the CHSAA State Volleyball Championships on Nov. 8-10 at the …

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Volleyball tourney: time to seize the day


Colorado Mesa University volleyball standout Kasie Gilfert has a message that sounds simple for players who will be participating in the CHSAA State Volleyball Championships on Nov. 8-10 at the Denver Coliseum.

Now, here comes that word “however,” which usually means the statement that follows contradicts the previous words.

So when Gilfert says to have fun, she knows that isn’t easy when putting in the hard work, trying to win and having to deal with adversity presented during matches and tournaments.

The message Gilfert was sending was that it going to get tougher at the next level so have fun in high school.

Gilfert played in the state tournament when she was a four-year volleyball starter and letter winner, plus a two-season captain at Legend. She set school single-season records for hitting percentage (.428) and blocks (158) as a junior. She also lettered in track and field.

“The biggest advice I have for the girls playing in the tournament is to just have fun and enjoy those moments,” said Gilfert. “Enjoy who they are playing with and also enjoy volleyball because some of them are seniors and they might be going to the next level or they might not be. So for some, it could be their last time playing and you want it to be a positive experience and you learn so much stuff from those experiences in volleyball.

“We have so much responsibility in college that fun is not an option. You have weights in the morning, practice, traveling and there is so much more that comes with the higher level of volleyball.”

The 6-foot redshirt sophomore is a middle blocker/right-side hitter who is having a banner season at CMU this season..

Gilfert, a transfer from Northern Arizona, leads NCAA Division II in hitting percentage at .453 and has recorded five 20-plus kill efforts. She is the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference leader in hitting percentage and also ranks high in kills, total points and blocking.

Gilfert, as of Nov, 1, led all three NCAA divisions in hitting percentage and she is on pace to break school records for hitting percentage.

This season she became CMU’s first ever American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II Player of the Week. She has been selected as the RMAC Player of the Week three times so far this season

She said playing in the CHSAA state tournament helped her and can help others.

“It helps you just because when you play there, there is so much happening around you, like there are other courts around you and there are a lot of fans,” she explained. “When you reach that higher level there are all those other distractions and you have to learn to tune them out. Playing in a tournament like the state tournament prepares you for that.”

Bye week to get better

Eight football teams enjoyed a bye in the Class 5A playoffs and got a week off before second-round games scheduled to be played on Nov. 10.

ThunderRidge was awarded the No. 8 seed and earned a first-round bye, along with Valor Christian, Columbine, Cherry Creek, Eaglecrest, Grandview, Ralston Valley and Pomona.

“It is definitely unchartered waters for Colorado high school playoffs to have a bye week,” said ThunderRidge coach Doug Nisenson. “The grind of the season, we played 10 straight games and we had our camp right at the end of July and then had a week off before the official start date. So it’s good to have a chance to rest a little and refocus on some littler things that can’t always be addressed the week of games.

He said teams on a hot streak may not like the bye, but it can help those teams that are dealing with injuries.

“If you are banged up, there is no doubt the bye is helpful,” he said.

Rest is good but teams have to maintain their routines. With the extra time and not having to install a game plan during the first week of the bye, teams can go over some basics that can sometimes be pushed aside during the regular season.

“Instead of installing a game plan the first week we worked on what we feel we need to be better at,” said Nisenson. “We got back to the basics of how we want our kids to run certain routes and little things that at the beginning of the year you get to spend time on but during the season you are coaching on the fly because the goal is to get the game plan installed and teaching the kids what they are going to go against.

“We’ll see how those top eight teams fare in the second round but it’s a real cool thing for our program to be put in that category with the other teams in the top eight. We’ve told the team that you’ve earned yourself the right to rest a little bit but the teams that are really going to capitalize on this opportunity are the ones that recognize that the off week is a week to get better like any other week.”

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.

Jim Benton


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