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Rock Canyon High School's Student Newspaper

the Rock Online

Rock Canyon High School's Student Newspaper

the Rock Online

Rock Canyon High School's Student Newspaper

the Rock Online

The Final Home Swing

The varsity girls volleyball seniors’ last home games, how they qualified for State and how they’ve made an impact.
media by Quinn Barton
Varsity girls volleyball captain Addie Waller ‘24 hugs her teammates Julia Holmes ‘24, Gannon Figueroa ‘24 and Lindsay Heyliger ‘24 after winning in Regionals on Nov. 3. The team beat Lakewood and Denver South High Schools to qualify for State.

At 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 3, the varsity girls volleyball team started their last home game of the season. For the seniors, it was their last home game ever. 

Throughout this year’s season, the team had seven league wins and three losses. They were ranked fourth in class 5A on MaxPreps and, after beating Denver South and Lakewood High School in Regionals, they officially headed to State. 

This was the last game home game for seniors Addie Waller, Gannon Figeroua, Ava Blanco, Julia Holmes and Lindsay Heylinger. They said their final goodbyes to the program at the banquet, which took place after State. Each player has dedicated at least two years to the program, and at least one on varsity. 

Coaches Angela Nylund-Hanson and Tiffany Albert spent this season working with the players, after losing six seniors the previous year, to try and continue the season that was left off in ‘22-’23, where the team took second place at 5A State.

Throughout different seasons, they have all continued their traditions together and bonded over funny memories, hard games, COVID-19 and team bonding experiences. 

“Oh my gosh, this year has been so fun. I’m playing with my sister and all my closest friends. I feel like

Captain and setter Addie Waller ‘24 sets the ball in the first set against Lakewood High School Nov. 3. During this point of the set, the score was 15-10 W. Throughout the season, Waller was a statistic leader, with 818 total assists.

we went [to State] last year and had unfinished business, so I’m super excited to return this year. It’s really special my senior year,” Waller said. 

Waller: a setter, a two-year captain and a player boasting a collection of 684 assists, 52 aces, 34 blocks and 125 digs this season. She received 12 “Player of the Match” awards during the entirety of her four years on varsity.

“Addie was our setter and a team captain. She is one of the most positive athletes I have ever coached, and her energy is contagious. Her level of enthusiasm for the teams’ successes is unrivaled,” Nylund-Hanson said. “It is an honor to coach an athlete all four years in high school, especially a young lady like Addie, and words can’t express how much I am going to miss her. She has impacted me as a coach and this program for years to come. She is going to do great things as she goes off to play for UNC Greeley.”

Waller played on varsity for all four years of high school and will be continuing her volleyball career at the University of Northern Colorado Greeley. 

Captain and libero Blanco collected 321 digs, one kill, 25 aces and 338 receives during the season.

“Going into State as a senior makes the experience feel a little bit more nerve-racking, just knowing that this is my last time I’ll be playing with this team and competing for the championship,” Blanco said. 

 She also received four “Player of the Match” awards throughout her career.

Captain and libero Ava Blanco ‘24 and outside hitter Alivia Eikenberg ‘25 celebrate after an assist made by Blanco in the first set against Denver South High School Nov. 3. “Playing in Regionals was so fun but it was heart-breaking to know it would be one of the last times playing with the seniors and that next year we won’t have them with us,” Eikenburg said. (media by Quinn Barton)

“Ava was our libero the last two years on varsity. She was also one of our team captains. She led the team defensively and kept everyone focused and on track during practices and games. She brought a sense of humor to the team as well, which kept things light. I can’t express how much we are going to miss her as she goes on to play beach volleyball at Mesa but we know she will do great things,” Nylund-Hanson said. 

Blanco played one year on JV and three years on varsity. She will be continuing her athletic career on Colorado Mesa University’s beach volleyball team in the fall.

Holmes is one of the outside hitters. She played two years on the sophomore team, one year on JV and one year on varsity.

“It was definitely sad going into State as a senior and thinking about leaving behind the last four years in the Rock Canyon volleyball program, not to mention the connections I made throughout the years. It was nerve-racking but, also exciting and filled me with so much joy. It made me realize how fast time goes by and is something I will remember forever,” Holmes said.

Holmes got 16 kills, eight digs and 15 serve receives throughout this season. 

“Julia is such a wonderful young lady who added so much to our team. She was always positive and ready to work hard. She was such a supportive teammate and we were happy to have her on the team this year. She provided so much value in practice, bettering our team and providing positive energy in games,” Nylund-Hanson said.

Figueroa, a middle, played on the sophomore team for one year and the varsity team for the remaining three years.

“[State] was very exciting but also very sad. My last time playing at Canyon was not nerve-racking because I had the confidence we would make it to State, which was more sad than anything. Beating Chap or Vista in League at State would be the only thing that I still wish we did,” Figueroa said.

Seniors Gannon Figueroa and Addie Waller high-five their teammates after winning against Denver South and Lakewood in the home gym Nov. 3. Rock Canyon hosted a regional tournament, where Lakewood and Denver South High Schools competed for a chance to play in at State. (media by Quinn Barton)

During the season, she got 48 kills, nine aces, 44 blocks and 20 digs, and received three “Player of the Match” awards during her time on varsity.

“Gannon has played middle for us the last three years and was a huge asset to our team. She is a wonderful young lady and a skilled athlete. She worked hard each day to be the best she could be and we appreciated her desire to be great. It has been an honor coaching her these past three years and we are going to miss her so much. We wish her all the best after she graduates, and we know she will go on to do great things,” Nylund-Hanson said.

Heyliger, a middle, collected 50 kills, 61 blocks, one ace and 11 digs during the season.

Addie Waller ‘24, Lindsay Heyliger ‘24 and Amari Clark ‘26 celebrate after getting a kill in the second set against Denver South Nov. 3. Heyliger had 67 total blocks by the end of the season, making her a MaxPreps stat leader for the school. (media by Quinn Barton)

“Going to State as a senior was a great experience. It was hard to think about how it was my last time playing with the girls. We had such a great season and we all became so close. My last time playing at Canyon was nerve-racking just because it was hard to shake the thought that any of the matches could have been our last time playing together,” Heyliger said.

Heyliger was on JV for one year and varsity for one year after transferring during her junior year. She will be continuing her academic and athletic career playing volleyball at Colorado Mesa University (CMU).

Lindsay worked so hard each day to connect with our setter and become a force on the net. We appreciated her desire to grow and play her best at each practice and game. She was a good teammate and a big part of our team. We know that she will go on to do great things at Mesa and we look forward to watching her succeed at the next level in college,” Nylund-Hanson said.

These seniors have left marks on not only each other but also players throughout the program.

“Watching them leave will be emotional. I’ve been working with some of them for three years now and we’ve all gotten super close and just used to being constantly around each other,” varsity outside hitter Alivia Eikenberg ‘25 said. 

“It will be hard to see the seniors leave the volleyball program after the mark they made on all of the underclassmen over the years. It will affect me personally from getting to learn from them,” freshman middle Elliot Shaden said.

Cheering, captain and setter Addie Waller ‘24, outside hitter Gianna Blanco ‘26 and right side Amari Clark ‘26 celebrate after a kill made by Blanco in set two against Denver South High School at Regionals Nov. 3. Throughout the season, Blanco had 194 kills and a 27.6% kill percentage. (media by Quinn Barton)

“I’ve gotten to build relationships with a few of the seniors and I’m so beyond proud. It will be bittersweet watching them leave but it is exciting knowing that they will get to grow their careers and have new experiences. I can’t wait to watch them in college, but when they leave I will be so sad because I love them so much,” sophomore team defensive specialist (DS) Giuliana Torres ‘27 said.

“The seniors are one of the reasons this year has been so fun and they have taught me a lot about high school, things that are more than just volleyball, and have become huge inspirations for me and many others. I will miss them so much but wish them the best of luck,” JV DS Elena Paz ‘27 said. 

“It’ll be super hard because I have created relationships with them and always had them to look up to and go to for guidance. I will miss looking forward to seeing them at games or practices, they were all huge role models and friends of mine,” sophomore team right-side hitter Mackinely Hill ‘27 said.

Varsity competed at State Nov. 9 and 1o, where they lost to Pine Creek 3-0, won against Cherry Creek 3-2 and took the final loss against Chaparral 3-0, leaving the final record at 21-7. They finished off ranked number 12 in the state, with a team total of 1039 kills, 222 aces, 188 blocks, 1310 digs, 991 assists and 1576 receptions in the season. 

Coaches Nylund-Hansen and Tiffany Albert pose with varsity girls volleyball seniors Julia Holmes ‘24, Gannon Figueroa ‘24, Lindsay Heyliger ‘24, Ava Blanco ‘24 and Addie Waller ‘24 after the game on Nov. 3. Heyliger held the Regional Championship trophy for the photo. (media by Quinn Barton)
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