Putting the pieces together

DM volleyball bounces back with an ‘electric’ environment, season


Photo courtesy of D1 Sports Photography

SMILING INTO THE COMPETITION-Sophia Hartel (12) sprints through the “tunnel” before DM’s 3-1 victory against Saguaro in September. “Seeing all the fans was an amazing feeling,” said Hartel, who plays both setter and defensive specialist. “All that support for our team and spirit felt awesome.” DM volleyball ended the season ranked 14th overall in the state.

Kara Hairston, Staff writer

Turnover is the greatest challenge in high school sports; but here at DM, coaches only see opportunity. 

“The program is kind of a puzzle,” said Mr. Achtzehn, head coach of this year’s DM varsity volleyball team. “There is always something building whether it’s the program or the team. I enjoy tinkering with it and seeing what will work together.”

So far, it’s working. Heading into the end of their season, the 12th-ranked Wolves enjoyed its highest ranking. The fast start–6-4 in conference and 7-5 overall, includes a signature 3-1 victory over bitter archrival Chaparral. “Beating Chap felt amazing since people always see us as the underdog” says senior Sophia Hartel.

Parents and fans come to support the volleyball program for “a fun and exciting atmosphere,” said Mr. Achtzehn, who also heads the school’s volleyball program and Graphic Design and Advertising Art I and II. The experience of going to a volleyball game with the “Desert Mountain atmosphere” is unmatched compared to last year.

The players have embraced the environment, which they attribute to the team’s success.

“I love the coaching staff.” said Shaina Ross (12), captain and libero of the Varsity volleyball team at Desert Mountain, “I also love working with my teammates because they feel like family”.

Varsity Assistant coach Kileigh Swinton called the team “competitive”.

They strive to win even when the competition grows. Their love for volleyball reflects on their appreciation for the organization, the volleyball gym, and the coaching staff.

I love watching my athletes figure out what we are saying and watching them put it together on the court.”  said Ms. Swinton, who is a substitute teacher for the district. 

They want to be there, want to compete, and have a good time and are willing to support each other–no matter what.

— Coach Achtzehn

New digs for the volleyball program

The top 12 ranking isn’t all that’s new; Mr. Achtzehn presented the program with a new volleyball gym in the auxiliary gym to promote the program and give the students and teachers a better appreciation for the team.  DM volleyball ended the season ranked 14th overall with a 7-8 record in conference and an 8-9 record overall. 

But the record doesn’t tell the whole story.

“With the new gym, the environment is a lot more electric,” Mr. Achtzehn said of the new facility, which feels more secluded and professional, providing a better environment for the players. 

Mr. Achtzehn said he will add some advertisement banners around the court, such as  local vendors and companies, which would ultimately lead to more money coming into the volleyball program as a whole. 

The team–and the girls–deserve it, he said.

“They want to be there, want to compete, and have a good time and are willing to support each other,” Coach Achtzehn said. “No matter what.” 

PREGAME SUPPORT – Kaitlyn Millington (10) is offering her encouragement to her teammates Nicole Cronin (12), Shaina Ross (12), Olivia Colletto (10), Vivian Adamucci (11) before taking on Williams Field. “I love this team. They are my family, and I know that they will always be there for me on and off the court. There is not a better team I could ask for.” DM ultimately defeated Williams Field 3-1 on Sept. 1.
(Photo courtesy of D1 Sports Photography)