The outside hitter with a 4.0 grade-point average was the state tournament MVP the last two years in guiding the Ravens to state titles.
Calley Heilborn’s legacy is multilayered. She’ll be remembered as one of the all-time top talents in a tradition-rich Auburn Riverside volleyball program, no doubt. But she also rates among the school’s super students (4.0 GPA). And as a person? Near perfection. For all of those reasons, and more, Heilborn is the Star Times volleyball player of the year after leading the Ravens to their second straight Class 4A state championship and third title during her incomparable four-year career.
“She’s just the full-package kid, as a human being and an athlete and a student athlete,” coach Chris Leverenz said, also citing her work ethic. “She’s the best of the best.”
Ask the humble Heilborn what she’ll remember most about the Riverside reign, which included a Class 3A crown her freshman year and a third-place finish the next, and you won’t hear about the wins, team trophies or personal awards. “It’s all the people I’ve met and friends I’ve made,” she said.
Heilborn, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter voted the state tournament MVP the past two seasons, got started in the sport at a young age in part because of older sister Carson and their father, Karl, who played volleyball when he was younger. Carson, a setter at the University of New Mexico, set the standard in sparking the Ravens to that first title as a senior in 2014, earning Washington’s Gatorade Player of the Year award.
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Calley — the goofier and more easy going of the two, but every bit as serious on the court — was in the starting lineup as a freshman and mostly remembers the simple joy of that state tournament.
“I didn’t know what to expect, and it was just kind of fun, woo-hoo, I’m having such a great time,” she said. “This year, we wanted to win so badly, I was more stressed about it.”
But, as usual, Heilborn pulled through, rallying the Ravens from a 2-1 deficit against Mead of Spokane in the title match, finishing with 27 kills and 18 digs. Being able to share the moment on the court with another sister, sophomore Camden, made it extra-special and the congratulatory phone call from Carson was the cherry on top.
It all still hasn’t sunk in two weeks after the tournament, but Calley who signed with Western Washington University over offers from Boise State and Wichita State, is still able to appreciate how special this four-year run has been,
“We’ve been so blessed with so many talented players coming into our program, and transfers coming in and incredible coaching, we couldn’t have done it without them,” she said. “And the support of the community — so many awesome fans come to watch us, and definitely our connection with each other. We all are such good friends and we all want to play for each other, not for ourselves.”
2017 Star Times all-area Volleyball team
The Star Times volleyball team, with athletes chosen from schools in King and Snohomish counties, or in the Metro and Wesco leagues.
Auburn Riverside, S, Sr.
Zimmerman, a two-time Star Times selection headed to Colorado State, was key to the Ravens’ back-to-back state championships. She distributed the ball well and knew when she needed to step up with a monster kill.
Lake Stevens, S, Sr.
A passionate player who pushes herself to excel in all aspects of her life, Eason stood out as one of the smoothest setters in the Class 3A state tournament, leading the Panthers to the eighth-place trophy. Signed with Seattle University.
Bothell, OH, Sr.
Made the transition from middle blocker to outside hitter seamlessly and moved among the Cougars’ all-time leaders in multiple categories. Also an excellent beach player, Butters’ all-around play was rewarded with MVP honors in Kingco 4A.
Kentwood, OH, Jr.
MVP of the NPSL Cascade Division, Kent left her mark with two school records this season (32 kills in a match, 344 kills in a season) and just missed a third with a .622 hitting percentage in a match. Signed with University of Portland.
Mercer Island, OH, Sr.
Behrbaum (Cornell) was instrumental in the Islanders’ run to the Class 3A championship match and led her team in numerous categories, including total kills (331) and hitting percentage (. 438). Clutch hitter in big moments.
Ballard, OH, Sr.
A four-year starter, Fera has been the total package for Ballard and was voted the Metro Sound Division MVP. She averaged 25 kills and 20 digs while serving at a 96-percent clip, playing every match over the past two years.
Liberty, L, Sr.
The defensive quarterback of a team that finished seventh at the Class 2A state tournament, Sweeney piled up nearly 400 digs this season (6.12 per set). Her coach calls her “a defensive animal on the court,” never letting the ball hit the court around her.
Tami Reese, Ballard
Reese capped her 20th, and final, season as the Beavers’ coach by guiding them to the title in the ultra-tough Metro League tournament. A former Ballard player, she showed longevity rarely seen in Seattle coaching ranks in volleyball.