For the third time since the year 2000, the Dallas Center-Grimes volleyball team has punched their ticket to the state tournament held at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.
It took a great season full of great performances and that’s exactly what the Fillies did to earn a trip to the Iowa High School volleyball promise land. It’s been a season full of exciting and electric volleyball by DC-G full of talented pieces that make up the winning puzzle. One of those important pieces is none other than the senior phenom in Tiffany Denger.
Denger has continued to cap off a wonderful high school volleyball career with a senior season worthy of multiple accolades. Match in and match out, opposing offenses have cringed at the thought of facing Denger, who’s 96 blocks currently holds the second highest mark in Class 4A and the 21st best mark across the entire state. That has helped the senior add some impressive numbers to her high school resume including 179 career blocks, 250 career kills, and 51 career digs.
Denger has been quite instrumental in what has been an unprecedented season for Fillie volleyball and has performed her best work both on and off the court.
“Tiffany is an overall great volleyball player and person,” said Fillie head coach Cheryl Voelker. “She plays so effortlessly and she’s so dedicated to her craft. If you ask anyone on the team, they’ll also say she’s one of the best teammates. She’s got a great personality and does such a great job helping others get better whether they are fellow seniors or freshmen.”
The 6’-03” senior sure plays the game of volleyball like she was born to play the sport. With great hustle and drive, character and dedication, Tiffany Denger has become the type of athlete parents would love their younger kids to aspire to become. As the ever humble Denger would be quick to say, the athlete she is today came with a lot of help along the way.
“I’ve been so blessed to have had the parents that I do,” began Denger. “Without the support from them, I wouldn’t have realized my love for the sport and without them driving me to matches and helping me out, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. Both my parents played athletics when they were in high school and I feel I’ve developed my passion and drive for athletics from them and that’s something I’ll always be grateful for.”
Being the great teammate that she is, Tiffany was even quicker to give praise to her fellow teammates and coaches.
“From my coaches and teammates in club ball to those in high school, everybody has helped me grow a ton,” said Tiffany. ” Coach Voelker always keeps practices and matches so positive which helps bring out the best in both myself and my teammates. All my teammates are such great people and they are people I hang out with even off the volleyball court. Everyone is so easy to get along with and no one feels they are better than someone else which has helped this team gel so well together. It’s so fun to be on this team.”
That same parental guidance and help that is also quick to talk about how hard working Tiffany herself has been which began at an early age.
“Ever since she was four years old, Tiffany had the drive and competitive spirit to take on all sorts of challenges,” began mother Kelly Denger. “Basically since she could walk, Tiffany has been involved in athletics and it started with basketball around age four. Back then we lived around East Des Moines and she started in the community rec center. She’s a great athletic person in large part because all of her life, she’s chosen athletics. My husband and I have never forced her to do one thing or another, she chose athletics early on and has always had a give it 100 percent type of attitude.”
As Kelly Denger further went on to describe, the journey to volleyball greatness actually started with a different sport entirely.
“For the longest time early on it seemed like basketball would be her main sport,” began Kelly. “She’s always been taller than most in her class and so it made sense but it also made sense with volleyball and once she discovered the sport, she instantly fell in love with it and has been driven to get better at it every single day.”
What bears even more of a wow factor is that the dynamic play-maker you see on the volleyball court wearing number six for the Fillies, didn’t begin her passion for the sport until recent years.
“Actually her passion for the sport has just recently come around,” said Kelly. “When we lived on the east side of Des Moines she did a little at the rec center but it wasn’t very productive for her. When we moved out here when she was in fifth grade the parks and rec department had volleyball here but it still wasn’t as great for her. Honestly her love for volleyball didn’t come along strong until about two years ago.”
That sounds quite shocking given the fact that now, in her senior season, Tiffany nearly leads all of Class 4A volleyball in blocks. From those who have been around Denger the most, such a feat in such a quick time frame is just another walk in the park for Tiffany.
“When Tiffany began volleyball here she was already a sound athlete but she still brought herself up to another level and a lot of that has to do with how hard she works and the time she puts into perfecting her craft,” said coach Voelker.
All of that time and hard work involved participating in several club settings, including the likes of CIS (Central Iowa Select volleyball club) and Ignite Volleyball Club. All that came about as a result of her dedication was well noticed not just across the local scene, but across the state scene as well. The senior star earned collegiate recognition in the form of a scholarship offer and from such coaches, a very familiar conversation about Tiffany was had.
“Tiffany has had a volleyball scholarship offer to play collegiate and one of the things the coaches loved about her was her I’m here for the team attitude,” began Kelly. “She has the ability to play any position and has the mindset if they need her to be the setter, she’ll be the setter, if they need her elsewhere she’ll help out elsewhere. They really liked everything about her volleyball abilities.”
The volleyball extraordinaire that is Tiffany Denger has certainly acquired a plethora of accomplishments physically on the volleyball hardwood, but one thing she gives most credit to has more to do with simply being calm.
“Something that’s really helped me is just to stay calm and focused no matter the opponent or the score,” began Tiffany. “I’ve learned that if you stay as calm as possible, it’s harder to make the easy mistakes that can pile up on you fast. When I just shut out the score and who we’re playing and just focus on volleyball, the game slows down and things are so much easier. If you let your emotions get the better of you, it’s not going to work out.”
Even with hopefully many more matches yet to come, and whether she continues her volleyball career at the collegiate level, this extremely intelligent senior has a focus on the horizon that is already in the works.
“I’m currently in a school-to-work program with Shive-Hattery regarding architecture engineering and that’s what I want to pursue after high school,” said Tiffany.
In the current moment, the focus of Tiffany Denger and the rest of the Fillie volleyball team will be on their round one state tournament opponent. That will take place on Tuesday, November 6 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa beginning on court two at 6 p.m.