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Rampart freshman Izzy Starck (10) sets the ball during the the 5A state volleyball finals match against Grandview at The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs on May 13, 2021. (Chancey Bush/ The Gazette)

Izzy Starck’s jet-set summer is still going. One of the country’s top volleyball prospects in the Class of 2024, the Rampart sophomore is headed to Columbus, Ohio, this weekend for the National Team Development Program’s fall training series.

Training alongside the U.S. elite in several states is priming Starck for a future that could include the national team, Rampart coach Nikki Bloemen said, like Doherty-Spartan-turned-Olympian Haleigh Washington. Starck said the summer experience has also given her an extra push.

“It was just a great experience for me to see who else is out there,” Starck said. “I felt that I was competing with them well enough, that I wasn’t behind.”

But that individual work doesn’t quench the thirst to win.

“There’s cool things I can do out of state, but Rampart volleyball is like my home,” Starck said. “It's comfortable, it’s safe — it's like a family to come back to.”

She and senior Ruby Sherman are the captains of defending 5A state champion Rampart. Sherman said she brings the crazy enthusiasm and Starck, the logical approach.

“I feel like we balance each other out super well,” Sherman said. “Just seeing how she’s grown as a player even since last year, and now she’s a captain.

“She's an amazing athlete. She’s going to go far.”

Starck and the Rams earned the 1 seed in the championship bracket of Cherry Creek’s Bruin Classic on Saturday, but absorbed their first loss against Seed 4 Heritage. Heritage fell behind early, took its first lead of the first set at 15-14 and went on to a 25-23 win.

“First set it was like — what are we doing here?” Starck said. “The second was probably the best I’ve seen us play in a while.”

Six-foot-1 Starck said she was one of 10 setters from her class invited to development camps this summer. She’s expanded her resume at Rampart, and as the Rams pulled away to win the second set 25-15 against Heritage, Starck found several deep corners. On the second-to-last point, her spike was so hard it knocked an Eagle to the floor.

“Being able to see her hit this year just adds another dynamic to her game,” Bloemen said.

“She’s one of those athletes you can only dream of coaching, especially as a sophomore. Just her all-around knowledge of the game is something that’s really refreshing and fun to have on the court.”

The Rams sat back and waited in the third set, which Heritage won 15-11. Sometimes that works for them against new opponents, sometimes it doesn’t.

“I feel like we kind of lost our fire in the moment,” Sherman said. “We missed a couple of serves and started getting in our heads. But I do think we had some really great moments, some really great kills.”

Sherman said the Rams, who sit 5-2 overall after dropping the consolation game against Broomfield, may have been underestimated after losing key talent including Starck’s older sister Anjelina, the 2021 Colorado Gatorade volleyball Player of the Year who is at Penn State.

In their only year together at Rampart, the Starck sisters helped the Rams finish 13-1 and defeat Grandview in four sets to win the school's first volleyball state title. The Rams weren’t perfect last year either.

“I think we can move past this and learn from it,” Sherman said.

Contact the writer: kate.shefte@gazette.com