Eight regional tournaments are set for this weekend in Class 1A volleyball with winners from each three-team event advancing to the state tournament. Once regionals are complete four wildcards are also selected to join the regional winners in Denver next week.
The wildcards will be selected based on RPI numbers finalized on Monday. Teams must compete in regionals to earn a state berth through the wildcard process.
Below the regional previews is a current list of RPI numbers. We list the regional tournament qualifiers in order based on current standings. They of course will change again before wildcards are selected.
REGION A: Sangre De Cristo, Norwood, Cotopaxi
Sangre De Cristo (17-6) jumped over a large hurdle in beating La Veta for the district title last week. Not only did the win give the T-Birds a chance to host regionals this week, it also snapped an 11-match losing streak to the Redskins. Their 3-1 win also marked the first time they’d taken set from La Veta since the 2015 season. Sangre’s last win in the series came in 2014 when they both the regular season and district tournament matchups.
There is balance up front for the T-Birds as Avery Palmgren (152 kills), Lexi Metz (137), Makenzie Rogers (115) and Ashley Mortensen (110) can all finish a point. Jordyn Cantu, with 244, leads four defenders with at least 130 diggs while Renae Sinclair is tops in assists with 378.
Cotopaxi (18-5) has just five losses on the season including two apiece to Sangre De Cristo and La Veta. They are down the list a bit in RPI (14th) so they may need to get two wins this week to earn a state tournament bid. The Pirates are led by the 1-2 punch of Koylynn Gulliford (180 kills) and Claire Carlson (116) at the net.
Norwood (9-12) advanced to the regionals by beating Ouray 3-0 in the district semifinals last week. They then lost to Dove Creek in three and now must win twice on the road to advance. Jenna Baugh (158 kills) is the top hitter and defender (269 diggs). She also has 184 assists to place second on the team behind Morgan Wallace (212).
REGION B: Kit Carson, Springfield, Eads
These teams are familiar with one another as they’ve all squared off on the season. Kit Carson swept both opponents and Springfield also scored a 3-0 win over Eads. All those matches took place before September 20th so all three have changed quite a bit since the head-to-head battles.
Even with changes, Kit Carson (20-2)is favored. The Wildcats are the two-time defending state champions and despite a virtual completely different roster, remain in the chase to make it three-in-a-row.
The lone holdover that played heavy minutes in the two state championship runs is Reyna Isenbart. The senior leads the Wildcats in both kills (197) and assists (404) and sits fourth with 206 diggs.
Other top hitters include juniors Cally Booker-Rady (159), Allison Gekeler (125) and sophomore Stephanie Framel (111). Tieler Randel has produced 490 diggs while Faith Johnson has 135 assists.
Springfield (15-5) won the regular season Ark Valley championship but a five-set stumble against South Baca cost the Longhorns a chance to host this weekend. They had swept the Patriots to start October.
Seniors Julia Mondragon (180 kills) and Lexi Crane (161) lead the Longhorns at the net. Classmate Kylie Parks is third with 134 and junior Brinlyn Dukes provides even more depth with 113. Crane (236 assists) and Payton Arbuthnot (262) both see time at setter.
Eads (10-11) won two straight matches only twice during the regular season and will need to match that total to earn a state tournament trip. Sophomore Rhealie Rittgers (178 kills) is the #1 hitter.
REGION C: Haxtun, Elbert, Stratton/Liberty
Haxtun (12-10) finished only fourth in the 1A/2A Lower Platte league chase but they used that tough competition to build momentum into the district tournament where they upset Otis to land the championship. They had lost to the Bulldogs in five sets during the regular season and fell behind 0-2 last week before scoring wins in the final three sets (25-22, 25-23 and 15-4.
That win earned the Bulldogs the chance to play at home with hopes of gaining a second consecutive state tournament bid. Ciera Schelling has 257 kills which is twice as many as her next teammate. Sophomore Taylor Schram (344 assists) is the main setter but Allie Thompson (172) also sees time there. Thompson also leads a list of six defenders with at least 128 with a team-high 227.
Stratton/Liberty (14-8) lost to Haxtun (3-0) at districts but also beat Elbert (3-0) during the region so the Knighted Eagles may be the top challenger. They are senior laden at the net with classmates Savannah Rothbauer (204), Andrea Hornung (113) and Emily Idler (103) are the top three hitters.
Elbert (15-8) placed second to Genoa Hugo in District 7 where they fell to the Pirates 3-0 in the championship battle. The loss snapped a five game winning streak which started following a first loss to the Pirates on October 22nd. Olivia Lay leads the Bulldogs in kills (180) and is second in digs (178). Alyssa Archuleta led the team with 294 diggs and Jessica Smith was tops in assists with 414.
REGION D: Front Range Baptist, Fleming, Belleview Christian
Despite not hosting the tournament, Fleming (22-3) is favored here as teams from the North have routinely moved past opponents from the 5280 without much push back. Very young and thin on numbers, the traditon-rich Wildcats still picked up a conference championship and a runner-up finish in the rugged District 4 bracket. They lost to Merino in the championship match but also outlasted the Rams in five sets in the final week of the regular season.
Junior Kendyl Kirkwood is the only upperclassmen on the roster as the remaining players are freshman and sophomores. Kirkwood has handed out 642 assists this year and has 2,441 for her career. Most of her passes go to either freshman Kally Kirkwood (344 kills) and sophomore Whitney Chintala (305). Chintala is a second year starter and was named to the MaxPreps Freshman All-American team a year ago.
Front Range Baptist (15-3) ended up third in the 5280 regular season chase but captured the district title to earn the right to host this weekend. Stats are not complete but Amber Bates was the leading hitter (98 kills) at mid-season.
Belleview Christian (18-4) beat Front Range Baptist in five sets in conference play but lost in five in the rematch during the district tournament. They then advanced to regionals by ousting Mile High Academy in four games. Sara Torres (114 kills), Alicia Valenciano (106) and Elaizha Nelson (105) all get equal chances at the net.
REGION E: Dove Creek, La Veta, North Park
Dove Creek joins Front Range Baptist as hard luck regional tournament hosts as they’re joined by a La Veta club that spent much of the season ranked number one in Class 1A. The Redskins were stunned by Sangre De Cristo in a district final and the loss takes them on a long road trip to the Southwest this weekend. North Park is the third entry and has an even longer road trip after finishing third at the district event last week.
La Veta (22-1) made it all the way to the state finals last year before a loss to Kit Carson dashed their championship hopes. They are back in the chase this year and one of the favorites to land the championship. The Redskins beat both Kit Carson and Fleming during regular season action.
Nya Sciacca (251 kills) and Desi Ortivez (221) are top line hitters but there is a lack of depth behind those two as the next player on the list has just 39 kills. Mary Goins (468 assists) makes most of the passes to those two. Aryanna Flores (215 diggs) tops a very good defensive team.
Dove Creek (20-1) matches La Veta’s one loss of the season as their only setback came against 2A league champion Dolores. With a combined record of 42-2 on the season, there’s a good chance that one wildcard will come from the district when those are announced on Monday. The Redskins are 5th in RPI and Dove Creek 9th entering regionals.
The Bulldogs have nine wins against 2A schools and another against 3A Delta. Cassie Gatlin is the number one option of offense as she has a team-high 244 kills. She also tops the Bulldogs with 337 diggs. Taylor Hickman has 348 assists and is the number one setter.
North Park (6-15) will struggle to take a set against the other two clubs. They were swept by Dove Creek in district action last week but wins over Nucla and Ouray pushed them to regionals.
REGION F: South Baca, Cheraw, Wiley
Based on their two wins over Wiley and another over Cheraw, South Baca is favored to advance from this bracket. They’re 19-3 on the season with losses to Springfield and La Veta in-state and Minneola KS out of state. They also avenged the regular season loss to Springfield by beating the Longhorns to win the district tournament last week.
The Patriots had a great run to the state tournament in basketball last Spring and many of the players on the volleyball club are the same. So they have post-season experience; albeit in a different sport. Alissa Hebbard (171 kills) and Alison Wilson (159) are the first options up front. Wilson is also the leader in diggs (235) with Delaney Eskew second (201). Eskew (242 assists) splits time at setter with Patience Crane (204).
Cheraw (12-10) is only two games above five hundred but has won seven of their last eight so they’re playing their best volleyball at the right time. Idaly Lopez, Morgan McReynolds and Kenzie Bartholomew are the top three hitters.
Wiley (14-9) started 7-2 but is at five hundred since. Sophomore Demi Wollert (128) is the only Panther with triple figures in kills. She is also second in assists (106) to Taira Weber (143).
REGION G: Genoa Hugo, Otis, Pikes Peak Christian
A second wildcard could come from this bracket as Genoa Hugo is #3 and Otis #11 in the current RPI standings. Otis is unaccustomed to playing on the road in this round as they routinely win their district tournament. This past week, they gave up a 2-0 lead on Haxtun and the ensuing five-set loss pushed into the same bracket with Genoa Hugo.
Genoa Hugo (20-2) has had a great season dropping matches to 2A Limon (3-2) and Kit Carson (2-1). They avenged the loss to Kit Carson by edging the Wildcats in five sets during the final week of the regular season. They also own a five set win over Otis on September 14th.
The Pirates are led by Ryely Smart who has 406 kills this season and 1,049 for her career. She’s a three-year starter at the net. Glorya Carr adds 238 kills and Dixi Lockhart 110. Tessa Smith, with 623 assists, is a veteran setter and six players have at least 100 diggs; a group led by Mindi Carr with 296.
Otis (15-7) has played a very strong schedule so they will be a tough out for the Pirates and any state tournament opponent should they advance. Losses have come against Merino (twice), Genoa Hugo, Wiggins, Prairie, Briggsdale and the tough match with Haxtun last week. Junior Becca Bleak (304 kills) is the top hitting option followed by Anthoneya Schaffert (154).
Pikes Peak Christian (16-6) lost a three-setter to Genoa Hugo in districts so getting past both the Pirates and Bulldogs will be a tall task. Kyler Sweat (116 kills) is the offensive leader and top defender (360 diggs).
REGION H: Merino, Flatirons Academy, Briggsdale
As we mentioned earlier, teams from the 5280 have had trouble competing with those from the North and Lower Platte leagues so this appears to be a two-team battle between Merino and Briggsdale. They’re in two different conferences but there is history this year.
Briggsdale edged Merino 2-1 in an early season tournament and the two battled through five sets in the district tournament last week before the Rams survived. The Rams then swept Fleming 3-0 to capture the district title. Because of their record and strength of schedule, many consider them to be among the top challengers for the state championship.
A strength of Merino is their depth as they can easily rotate eight or nine players in any match. A lot of that depth is at the net with Brooke Mertens (304 kills), Taysa Conger (299), Lauren Fritzler (145) and Faith Trenkle (134). Madison Sutter has 837 assists this season and over 22-hundred on her three-year career. Seven players have at least 127 diggs; a list led by Trenkle with 372 and Ainsley Powell with 358.
In addition to splitting two matches with Merino, Briggsdale (19-6) worked through a tough schedule that included three matches with Fleming (1-2), two against Prairie before Hannah Kinnison was injured (1-1) and three against Weldon Valley (3-0). Four more high quality wins came against 2A regional hosts Wiggins and Sedgwick County along with 1A opponents Haxtun and Otis. The Falcons also took a set against 2A #4 Union Colony Prep.
Kimberlyn Krise (426 kills) is among the best hitters statewide. Kylie Krise was second with 245 kills. Setter Talia Donoho (725 assists) has two years of state tournament experience with 2A Dayspring Christian before playing the last two seasons in Briggsdale.
Flatirons Academy (12-10) meantime has three-set losses to Prairie, Wiggins and Dawson. They avenged a regular season loss to Mile High Academy by scoring a 3-1 district semifinal win. They then fell to Front Range Baptist in the district final (3-0).
CURRENT RPI ORDER OF REGIONAL QUALIFIERS
- Kit Carson
- Genoa Hugo
- La Veta
- South Baca
- Dove Creek
- Sangre De Cristo
- Front Range Baptist
- Belleview Christian
- Pikes Peak Christian
- Flatirons Academy
- North Park