Colorado’s first Olympic indoor volleyball gold medal in US history was a feat.
Last month in the Tokyo Championship round, two of six Americans on the field to land the final match point against Brazil were products of the state: passer Jordyn Poulter (Eaglecrest ’14) and the outside striker Haleigh Washington (Doherty ’13).
– NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 8, 2021
The two gold medalists have returned to Colorado in recent weeks to celebrate at their home schools in hopes of inspiring the state’s next generation of volleyball players.
“Haleigh and I are both so grateful to come from a state that isn’t necessarily as big in volleyball compared to some states in the Midwest,” Poulter said. “To have two of us out of the 12 on a nationwide roster to represent Colorado is extremely special. We are really proud to be from the Rocky Mountain region community for women’s indoor volleyball.
Washington, as told to CHSAANow.com, added, “A lot of times in life, especially after all with COVID, people get really anxious and really nervous. This whole idea of being there really resonated with me, so I wanted to say that to the girls. “
Their success hardly surprises Jim Miret, the longtime head coach of the Englewood-based Front Range Volleyball Club where Poulter is a former. Miret said Colorado – unlike California or Texas – might not be considered a traditional hotbed for the development of youth volleyball. But many government products continued to do great things.
“We definitely have a pretty good number of Division I players coming from Colorado depending on the year,” said Miret. “We always have between two and five best kids who go to some really good Division I programs.”
The stars were on display during last year’s Class 5A final between Grandview and Rampart with at least three major Division I signatories: Addison O’Grady (Iowa basketball), Riley Simpson (Baylor volleyball) and Anjelina Starck (Penn State volleyball). Colorado’s elite club programs are also widely recognized. Poulter played for Front Range 18 Black in 2014 when he was ranked No. 11 in the country.
“Maybe at first glance people might not think of (Colorado) as a home, but there is actually a lot of really great activity in the volleyball world,” said L American indoor volleyball coach Karch Kiraly at the Denver Post. “It’s not much of a surprise.”
The popularity of the sport across the country has skyrocketed over the past decade, according to the annual NFHS participation survey, volleyball overtaking basketball as the second most popular sport for high school girls.
Colorado’s aspiring volleyball Olympians now have an example to follow.
“Haleigh and I were exactly where a lot of these girls were. We were in those shoes, ”Poulter said. “I hope it’s an inspiration and a little more within your grasp to see that someone in a very similar situation can fulfill their dream of going to the Olympics and winning a gold medal.”
10 to watch
Haleigh Washington (Doherty) and Jordyn Poulter (Eaglecrest) are the latest elite volleyball talents to come out of Colorado. Here’s a breakdown of the state’s top players this year with the CHSAA fall season now underway..
Carter stand – Cherry stream
Senior / 6-7 / MH
Notable: Committed to the University of Minnesota and considered Colorado’s best rookie.
Katie Gallery – West Pueblo
Senior / 6-1 / S
Outstanding: Won Class 5A Second Team Honors as a Junior.
Emerson reinke – Ralston Valley
Senior / 5-9 / S
Notable: ranked in the Top 10 for class 5A in kills, assists and blocks last season.
Izzy Starck – Bulwark
Second year / 6-0 / S
Notable: Won the State 5A Volleyball Championship last season.
Quincey Coyle – Mead
Senior / 6-0 / OH
Please note: Finished second in class 4A last season with 209 kills.
Kinley Lindhardt – Frédéric
Senior / 5-7 / OH, RS
Notable: Committed to playing beach volleyball at Cal State Northridge.
Karlee pinell – Cheyenne Mountain
Senior / 5-11 / OH
Notable: A volleyball engagement from the University of Rhode Island.
Allison waller – Berthoud
Senior / 5-11 / L, DS
Note: Led Class 4A with 55 aces last season.
Sydney Dunning – Lamar
Junior / 6-0 / OH, MH
Notable: Won All-State honors for the first time in Class 3A in second year.
Rylee martin – Eaton
Junior / 5-8 / S, OPP
Notable: Ranked at the top of Class 3A in assists last season with 595.