The Ridge Review

The Student News Site of Mountain Ridge High School | Glendale, Arizona

The Student News Site of Mountain Ridge High School | Glendale, Arizona

The Ridge Review

The Student News Site of Mountain Ridge High School | Glendale, Arizona

The Ridge Review

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Behind the Whistle

Meet the Masterminds Behind our School Volleyball Success
Karina Kunz
Volleyball coach group picture on media day

Volleyball was established in 1895 by William G. Morgan in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and was extracted from the sport of badminton. Volleyball can be played as an indoor and outdoor sport. Here at Mountain Ridge, there is a court and sand volleyball team. Mountain Ridge has a varsity, junior varsity, and a froshmore team for court volleyball. The coaches this year are Coach Christina Jensen, Coach Ian Jensen, Coach Jon Devenney, and Coach Aaron, also including their new manager Julia Olariu. This article will be an interview of the coaches and their new manager, to get their thoughts on the season.

Karina Kunz

Coach Christina Jensen is currently the varsity volleyball coach for indoor and beach volleyball. She has been coaching for eight years, and this is her sixth season at Ridge. Coach Christina played volleyball herself in high school and was on the varsity team in her junior and senior years.

The first question asked was what inspired her to start coaching and her response follows, “I don’t know if there is a better feeling in the world than watching that [the love people have for volleyball] happen for somebody that just like inspired everything else, to continue on.”

When asked for her favorite thing about volleyball she responded, “I love the girls that are in the program. They play hard for each other you just see the comradery that built between them as they move through the program together. Just watching them become like strong young women and build those bonds of friendship and see them all successful with one another is the most rewarding thing ever.” The girls are a big part of the program and they shape the team. By being able to work together with the coaches they can get to their full potential and play volleyball!

Since the season just started the expectations are high. The team’s expectations are, “We’re slowly moving forward and I think this year, girls have high expectations of themselves, what they can do, they believe they can win. And we’re going to start seeing a lot more wins in our column than we have in previous years.” The girls this year have outstanding talents, they work great together and have really good skills.

Currently, Mountain Ridge is a 6A school and, since it’s a 6A-rated school

Girls play volleyball. Girl about to hit ball over to the other side
Karina Kunz – Photographer

competition is high. Coach Christina talked about this very aspect saying, “We’re in a tough region. I mean, we have some of the best high schools in the state. We have state champions down the street from us. I think overcoming the mentality that we’ve always been at the bottom of the region.” Some examples stated were Liberty, Pinnacle, and Sunnyslope high schools as they are all known as highly-rated high schools in sports and have great programs.

Coach Jon Devenney has been a coach since 1996. He has been coaching for 27 years and has been a coach at Mountain Ridge for 13 years. He was the varsity coach for ten years and they won State in 2004. This is his first year as the JVA coach. He is also a teacher here at Mountain Ridge, he teaches AP Physics and Honors Physics.

Tryouts can be hard, but they can also be competitive. This year tryouts were spread out over three days, and all three were after school in the gym. One of the tryouts consisted of the players going out on the track and having to run the mile under a certain amount of time, which in some people’s opinion “it’s tough”. Coach Devenney was asked his opinion on how tryouts went and here is his response: “It was competitive. There were a lot of girls that tried out. It came down to the last day where as coaches all four of us got together and really had a long discussion on who to pick and where to put them. But I feel like we made the right decisions.”

Coach Devenney is managing this year’s JV team which is one ranking away from varsity so it could be qualified to be equally as hard. Coach Devenney has high hopes for his team and at first, he wanted to go undefeated but even though they lost a game he is still hoping for the best, “They’re are a really strong team. They’re a great group. They work hard. There’s a really nice mix. but they’re talented for sure… So we’re just trying to continue to put it together, and we’re hoping to win a lot more than to lose.”

Volleyball girls at Mountain Ridge reach for the volleyball
Karina Kunz – Photographer

Every coach has a coaching philosophy, and they are all different. Coach Devenney’s philosophy is, “a mix between encouraging and being positive, but then correcting and giving feedback so that they can improve. So trying to push a little bit to require just a little bit more focus, a little bit more hard work so that hopefully they can improve.” He uses positivity and feedback on his players because he wants them to improve in the best way possible.

There are things you need to remember when on the court, one of the main things Coach Devenney expects to be remembered is, “Honestly, the most important thing is move to the next play. The highs of the last play are great, and you can get energy off that, but then the mistakes of previous plays, you just got to let it go and move to the next play.” If you keep looking at your mistakes then you won’t be able to improve you’re just going to keep replaying it in your mind. Instead of doing that, try and focus on the next play and try to be better.

Coach Aaron Sneathen has been coaching for four seasons so far, and his prior volleyball experience is recreational. He is currently the Mountain Ridge volleyball coach for the JVB team also known as the froshmore team.

Every coach has a coaching philosophy, they are all different and unique to each other, Coach Aaron’s philosophy is, “No matter what you’re doing, no matter what your skill level, you can always give effort. And once we pick the teams, the girls that are going to play are the girls that work the hardest. Hard work and effort.” Putting in effort is a way to succeed, no matter what age, skill or anything else can affect how hard you work.

“To stay positive, to stay confident. For me, the winning aspect of the game is like the biggest difference between teams that are more successful and teams that aren’t. The mental aspect is huge.” When on the court it is hard to stay positive especially if you made a bad play or if you are behind in points but positivity is one of the many ways you can succeed.

Having personal goals for the season can help you a lot as well, it can range from changing your philosophy to helping these girls reach their potential that has been set. Coach Aaron’s personal goal as a coach is, “The biggest thing that I want to do is to help each player become the best that they can be. my biggest goal is to get them as far as work-wise and skill-wise, get them to the highest level they can get.” These girls have long gruesome practices, hopefully, after this season is over they will be able to reach the goal they wanted to whether it is, receiving better, having a stronger swing, or strengthening their setting skills whatever it is hopefully it will be achieved.

Coach Ian Jensen is Coach Christina’s Husband and has been a coach for 8 years and has been a coach at Ridge for 6 years. This year he is a volunteer coach, and he is the team’s mental coach.

Coach Ian is helping the players become their best selves mentally and emotionally, his responsibilities are, ‘I am assisting this year and my emphasis is Mental Strength and Preparation. We feel that the Mental game is becoming more important for athletes.

Coaches have their goals as well as the players, Coach Ian will be teaching them how to mentally control their thoughts and emotions while playing as an athlete. His goals this season are as stated, “The main goal is for each Student-Athlete and Coach to get better. We want to improve skills, mental strength, coaching, and the overall program. focusing on the daily, weekly, and seasonal tasks helps us achieve the betterment goals and team wins.”

Julia Olariu is a 9th grader at Mountain Ridge and is currently the new manager for the Mountain Ridge Volleyball teams. Julia has played volleyball since 5th grade.

Mountain Ridge girls volleyball team celebrate
Karina Kunz – Photographer

When asked what Julia’s responsibilities are this season she said, “My responsibilities as the team manager for the volleyball teams are taking stats, helping set up for games, helping the girls warm up, and setting up fun activities for the girls.” people believe the manager role is not important but the manager is the one who holds stats for the team and helps them in the paper form.

As a manager, you need to have goals and Julia’s goals are, “My goals for this season are to be the best manager I can be and continue to cheer the girls on at the volleyball games. And to hopefully make it on the sand volleyball team in the spring season.” While she is the manager she can analyze the players and learn from watching.

Volleyball is such an admirable sport, it’s so fun to watch, and for others, it’s equally as fun to play. They are doing so well even this, and varsity just made it to playoffs! It will be exciting to see the school volleyball team grow as a whole and win those games! The coaches are truly amazing and the girls are lucky to have them, they have great mindsets and know their way around.

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About the Contributor
Karina Kunz
Karina Kunz, Journalist

Karina is a freshman at Ridge and loves writing stories, opinions, and taking pictures. She was on her newsletter team in middle school and has been writing about topics for a while. She is devoted to her academics and tries to get the best grade she can get. She loves learning about history and knowing the true facts behind everything. Her passions are volleyball, photography and reading. Karina is the club's secretary and will be taking attendance for meetings. If you ever need any help you can contact her at; [email protected]

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