After last week’s round of district tournaments, 24 teams are still in the hunt for the ultimate prize. Those squads will compete in regionals this week, and that number will be reduced to an even dozen. Eight of those will automatically qualify as regional champions, while four more will punch their ticket to the state field as wild cards, determined by RPI.
La Veta (23-0, 4th RPI) won the District 6 title last weekend, sweeping its way through Manzanola, Creede, Cotopaxi and Sangre de Cristo. As a result, the Redskins are the top seed for Region A. They have dropped a total of three sets all season, none since Oct. 7. Heading into the district tournament, Kaylee Corsentino had amassed 176 kills, including a career-high 25 against Primero on Oct. 20. Nya Sciacca was second on the squad with 97 entering last weekend’s pool play.
De Beque (11-10, 25th RPI) finished second in District 1, defeating Nucla 3-0 but falling to Dove Creek in four. The Dragons now face a nearly six hour bus ride to La Veta for regionals. The loss to the Bulldogs in the district finals was only the third defeat this season at the hands of a 1A opponent, and Dove Creek dealt two of them. Faith Novess went into the postseason with 209 kills, followed by Jentry Largent with 151. With its RPI, De Beque’s only route to the state tournament is to win the region.
Creede (16-7, 20th RPI) earned its spot in Region A by finishing third in District 6. The Miners defeated Centennial in opening round play and then fell to Sangre de Cristo in five and La Veta in three. Creede took out Cotopaxi in four in an elimination game. The Miners are 0-2 this season against La Veta, dropping both matches 3-0. Going into the final week of the regular season, Sophia Borchers led the squad with 94 kills and Chloe McComas was next with 92. Like De Beque, Creede will probably have to win the region to qualify for state due to its RPI.
Kit Carson (22-0, 1st RPI) rolled through the District 2 tournament much the same way it did through the regular season. The Wildcats, who did not lose a set during the regular season, swept their way through Granada, Cheyenne Wells and McClave in districts. In the regular season, four players recorded over 100 kills and one more was over 90. Tess Hornung led the way with 176, followed by Micayla Isenbart (120), Reyna Isenbart (113), McKenzie Smith (103), and Olivia Isenbart (94).
Wiley (17-4, 6th RPI) saw its five match winning streak snapped by Springfield in the finals of the District 3 tournament. The Panthers were swept by the Longhorns, marking the third time this season that they failed to win a set. One of the other instances was early in the season against Kit Carson. Faith Dellamaestra (134 kills) and Shayla Brown (111) are the top two threats for the Panthers. With a high RPI, the Panthers have a good shot at qualifying for state, even if they don’t win the region.
Cheyenne Wells (14-8, 18th RPI) outlasted Eads in five sets to finish third in District 2. The Tigers won the first two sets before dropping the next two, including a 28-26 fourth. They avoided disaster by taking the fifth set 15-11. The Tigers are 0-2 this season against Kit Carson and 0-1 against Wiley. All three losses were sweeps. Kaci Chadwick had 259 of the team’s 533 kills during the regular season, posting 22 or more four times. The Tigers probably need to win the region to advance to state.
Otis (18-4, 5th RPI) claimed the top seed in Region C by winning the title in District 5. The Bulldogs swept Bethune and Stratton/Liberty and then claimed the crown by taking down Flagler/Hi-Plains in four. Otis has won five straight matches and eight of its last nine. Three Bulldogs recorded at least 100 kills, led by Makenna Metzler with 208. Ruby Halcomb has added 108 and Chloe Bleak has 100.
Elbert (12-11, 31st RPI) goes into the regional round knowing it will need to win Region C to advance to state. The Bulldogs finished second in District 7 behind Genoa-Hugo. They pushed the Pirates before losing in four sets. Elbert went 1-4 against regional qualifiers, with the lone win coming against Pikes Peak Christian in five sets during districts. Morgan Phillips and Taryn Lee are the two main options on the attack, registering 125 and 121 kills, respectively. Olivia Lay is also over 100 kills, with 105 on the season.
Stratton/Liberty (10-12, 24th RPI) will be facing Otis for the third time in a matter of weeks, having lost 3-0 on Oct. 13 and 3-0 in last week’s district tournament. The Knighted Eagles finished third in District 5, beating Arickaree/Woodlin in five sets in the opening round and then losing to Otis and Flagler/Hi-Plains. With a losing record and a low RPI, they’ll have to win the region to qualify for state. Tori Lueck (120 kills) and Savannah Rothbauer (114 kills) lead the team.
Rocky Mountain Lutheran (16-5, 12th RPI) finished second in the 5280 league during the regular season, but the Eagles came out on top of the District 8 tournament. Their path to the title was capped off with a sweep victory over 5280 champ, Belleview Christian, avenging an earlier five-set loss to the Bruins. Their RPI puts them squarely on the bubble for a state tournament berth, but that number would likely drop with a loss to either opponent. Tyler Hipp (189 kills), Kelsey Boucher (150 kills) and Ashley Larsen (104 kills) will try to prevent that scenario.
Weldon Valley (13-11, 16th RPI) earned its way into the regional field with a second place finish in District 4. Every loss this season was against a regional qualifier. The Warriors are one of three teams to take a set from Fleming this year. Their postseason rests on winning the region, as their RPI has them on the outside looking in. Kirsten Wood and Kaybree Keating lead the team with 125 and 122 kills, respectively, but those numbers do not include the final week of the regular season nor the district tournament.
Denver Waldorf (9-8, 29th RPI) improved upon its fourth place finish in the 5280 by upsetting Front Range Baptist in five sets to finish third in District 8. The Spartans, like the other two teams in the region, would need to win the event to qualify for state. Ava Ahalt has recorded 229 kills to date, while the rest of the team has combined for 208.
Dove Creek (15-6, 19th RPI) won the District 1 tournament with four-set victories over North Park and De Beque. The Bulldogs have won six straight and only one of their losses this season was to a 1A opponent. Despite that, their RPI has them needing to win the region to keep their campaign alive. With four hitters each having more than 100 kills, the Bulldogs will present some problems for the opposition. Cassie Gatlin is tops with 150, but Breea Meyer is close with 142. Madilyn Hankins and Faith Johnson each check in with 108.
Sangre de Cristo (17-6, 11th RPI) could qualify for state without winning the region, but the second place finishers in District 6 would like to remove any doubt by claiming the automatic berth. The Thunderbirds suffered two losses to La Veta on the year, both in sweeps, but only lost to one other 1A squad. That was a four-set loss to Eads in the Swink tournament.
Nucla (8-13, 35th RPI) has the lowest RPI of any regional team and the third place finisher from District 1 can only reach state by winning Region E. The Mustangs went 1-8 against regional qualifiers, with the lone win and five of the losses coming against 2A opponents. They are 0-2 against Dove Creek this year, losing both in three sets.
Springfield (11-11, 10th RPI) faced the toughest schedule in 1A this year, and while the Longhorns only have a .500 record, their RPI has them staring at a possible wild card spot for state. As was the case with Weldon Valley, all 11 losses by the Longhorns were to regional qualifiers, including two apiece to Holly and McClave. Springfield avenged one of those losses to Holly by defeating the Wildcats in District 3 tournament action. Brenna Shetron leads the squad with 149 kills, 60 more than Jayci Westphal.
McClave (17-5, 3rd RPI) is in position to claim one of the four wild card spots if the Cardinals do not win the region. They are 2-0 against Springfield, winning in four and five sets. The Cards also own two wins over Holly, helping them to a 7-5 mark against teams still playing this week. With a 1-2 duo of Allie Nidey (313) and Jordan Parker (247) pounding down a combined 560 kills, the Cardinals will be a tough out.
Holly (17-5, 7th RPI) is another team that is looking good for a potential wild card entry to state. The Wildcats are 4-5 against regional qualifiers and three of those losses are to teams in Region F. Kallie Cathcart takes most of the big swings for the Wildcats, posting 238 kills so far. Saedee Davis helps out with 93.
Genoa-Hugo (15-8, 15th RPI) faces two familiar faces in Region G. The champions of District 7 will not only face the third place team from their district, Pikes Peak Christian, but the Pirates will also see their rivals from just down I-70, Flagler/Hi-Plains. The Pirates took care of PPC in three sets last week, but dropped a four-setter to Flagler/Hi-Plains earlier in the year. They are 4-7 against regional qualifiers and their RPI might not be high enough to get a wild card, should they not win the region. Three players to keep an eye on are Heather Graham (255 kills), Ryely Smartt (206) and Trinity Leach (111).
Flagler/Hi-Plains (15-7, 9th RPI) faced regional qualifiers a dozen times this season, posting a 6-6 record. They finished second to Otis in District 5, winning the first set and then dropping the next three. Kodie Niebur-Hasz is the first option for the squad, with the junior registering 290 kills. Devan Stegner has added 157.
Pikes Peak Christian (17-5, 32nd RPI) is the one team in the region that knows its postseason fate lies in one outcome. The Eagles can only make the state field by winning the region. They have not faced the same level of competition as the other two teams in the field, night in and night out. The Eagles have had four matches against regional qualifiers and they are 1-3. Most of their offense goes through Kyler Sweat, who had 111 kills through the opening round of districts.
Fleming (24-1, 2nd RPI) is a lock to make the state field, but if the Wildcats were to be upset, the ramifications would be huge. Teams on the bubble would see their chances hurt greatly. The Wildcats have only dropped four sets on the season, two of them to the #11 seed in 3A (Bishop Machebeuf). The champions of District 4, Fleming is 10-1 against regional qualifiers, with three wins over 3A teams and three more over Briggsdale, who is also in this field. Alli Keisel (291 kills) and Bailey Chintala (254 kills) are a very good 1-2 punch on the attack, but Jenna Lengfelder (181) might be one of the best third options in the state.
Belleview Christian (19-2, 17th RPI) won the 5280 during the regular season, but rarely got any attention for the job it was doing. The Bruins finally made the top-10 in late September, but disappeared quickly after suffering their only regular season loss. They finished second to Rocky Mountain Lutheran in District 8 and probably need to win the region to stay alive in the postseason. Brooke Long (215 kills) and Jamie Shadden (183 kills) lead the attack.
Briggsdale (20-6, 8th RPI) could be on the bubble despite entering regionals as one of only five teams with at least 20 wins The Falcons, who finished third in District 4 after winning a one-set playoff against Prairie, are 1-3 against teams still alive. All three losses are sweeps against Fleming. Skyla Miller’s 365 kills are sixth in the entire state, regardless of classification, and are tops in 1A. Kimberlyn Krise is second on the team with 250.