DENVER – Sometimes the third time just isn’t the charm. Merino’s quest for a third straight Class 1A girls volleyball title came to fruition in the same way it had for the previous two.

They topped rival Fleming in the championship match, winning 25-17, 25-21, 25-14 to once again lift a state championship trophy high in the air. The accolades they’ll get in the volleyball are well deserved as is the post-championship winning meal they’ll get before the long bus ride home.

“We’re going to Texas Roadhouse,” senior Makenna Sutter said.

Sutter was crucial in the sweep of the Rams’ longitme rivals. She hounded the net on both sides of the ball, putting down timely kills and getting key blocks to help her team set the tone early in the match.

The second set got off to a bit of a tough start and the Rams had to battle back to avoid letting the match even up and potentially handing momentum to the Wildcats. They didn’t press and they didn’t panic, they just had faith in each other, and each member of the team just executed the tasks that were asked of them.

“We trust each other, and we just never give up,” Sutter said. “We go for every ball and we don’t think about who we’re playing. It’s just another day.

In a way it was almost akin to the adjustments made after they dropped a five-set match to Fleming earlier in the tournament.

“We were struggling to find rhythm the first two days of the tournament,” Coach Christin Sutter said. “It really helped us calm down and figure out how to play like Merino plays.”

That second set forced them to take the same approach, but at a much faster rate considering the stakes were much higher and Fleming is a team very capable of grabbing momentum and never letting it go.

“They’re so good,” Coach Sutter said. “They’re great competitors and that’s what you expect, to get here and face tough competitors.”

The Rams got the win and then pressed their advantage in the third set, trying to finish off their third title run with a sweep.

On match point, a perfect set from Brooklyn Sutter allowed freshman Jaylyn Lynch to take a big swing that struck the Denver Coliseum floor with championship-winning force.

The Sutter sisters embraced and even got a chance to celebrate with their coach, who doubles as Mom.

“I don’t know how many parents get to live through championships with all three of their daughters,” Coach Sutter said. “It’s a pretty awesome experience. Not to mention all my other ‘daughters’ that are on the team. It’s a blessing for sure.”

Makenna is a junior and Brooklyn is a senior, so the days of sharing those experiences may not be over.