Beth Nelson will enter her fourth season as the head volleyball coach at Delta High School. She will be heading into a new challenge as the Panthers become a member of the Class 3A Western Slope League.
Delta will be in a league that features teams from Aspen, Basalt, Cedaredge, Coal Ridge, Grand Valley, Gunnison, Moffat County, Olathe and Roaring Fork.
Nelson will be assisted by Lisa Rover who will be in her third season with Nelson. Teresa Baier is the junior varsity coach and is in her fourth year with Nelson.
Holly Teyler-Crowder begins her first season with Delta's volleyball program and will coach the Green team.
The Panthers will have a core of five seniors which is being counted on as the players who will lead this year's team. Two of those seniors, Emily Baier (outside hitter) and Emily Nortnik (setter) were First Team all-conference selections from 2015.
Dani Sakala (middle blocker), Makayla Mills (middle blocker) and Shelbi Ledesma (right side hitter) are the remainder of the senior core.
"I believe our impact players will be all five seniors. They have worked extremely hard in the off season and are motivated and ready to lead their team to another state showing. This group of seniors is very selfless and puts the team first. When we work as one unit, I believe we will be a hard team to beat," noted Nelson.
Look for more help from a pair of juniors, Harlee Roberts at libero and Lexi Quinn at outside hitter.
The new conference is a question mark for Nelson. "This a new league for us so I am not sure what to expect. We are really focused on taking care of the ball on our side of the net and limiting our own errors. I think Coal Ridge, Cedaredge and Olathe will all be tough matches for us in this league, but we are not looking past anyone."
Delta will play in the Mesa Ridge Tournament later in the season and faces some tough foes in Mesa Ridge, Conifer, Vista Peak Prep, Discovery Canyon and Pueblo.
At the end of the season the Panthers play in the Coal Ridge Invitational where they will see Battle Mountain, Glenwood Springs and Pagosa Springs.
Nelson is optimistic about the season. "We have very high expectations for the season and will take it one game at a time in the hopes to return to the state games."