Eight regional tournaments are on tap this week in Class 2A volleyball with winners of each advancing to the state tournament next week in Denver. Once regionals are complete, RPI standings will be tabulated once again and the top four non-qualifiers will also be invited to the state tournament as wildcards.
We preview all eight brackets below and please note the number before each team represents their RPI ranking prior to tournament play this weekend. With those numbers in mind, three of the four wildcard selections will most likely come from regions one, two and six.
REGION #1 – FOWLER HIGH SCHOOL
#4 Fowler (18-5)
#27 Del Norte (15-8)
#3 Swink (17-5)
Finishing third in the Santa Fe conference during the regular season, Fowler lost two matches apiece to Hoehne and Swink. The Grizzlies though turned the tide last week beating both to win the District 6 title. Of course, a fourth meeting between Fowler and Swink is set for this week. The Lions beat the Grizzlies 3-0 and 3-2 in conference play before last week’s four-set loss.
Complete season stats have not been published by Fowler but senior Elizabeth Hagerman is their first option on offense. She has 208 kills this season including a season high 24 in the second match with Swink. She also put down seven kills in the first meeting and totaled 22 in two losses to Hoehne. Kaitlyn Smith is second on the Grizzlies with 88 kills and Tatyanna Bradshaw third with 70. Lexi Van Sickle (287 assists) and Isabella Proctor (191) share time at setter.
Following the opening district loss to Fowler, Swink had to rally from a 2-1 deficit against John Mall just to make the regional round. They won the final two sets 25-21 and 17-15. It was their third win over the Panthers this season.
Balance has been the key to success for Swink as four players have at least 138 kills but none more than 160. Skyler Jones (160) tops the list followed by Brianna Denton (152), Brooklyn Mueller (151) and Kyla O’Neal (138). Tierra Holland (345 assists) and Jones (260) interchange in the setter’s role.
Sitting in-between the two Santa Fe league rivals is Del Norte who finished third during the Southern Peaks conference race but bumped to second in district play last week. They played Swink in mid-October and fell to the Lions in three sets. Since that match, the Tigers are 5-2.
Del Norte also features nice balance at the net. Lacie Jones leads the Tigers with 231 kills but Kiela Madrid (160), Myka Glover (142) and Syana Colville (103) also get plenty of chances. Jones also tops the Tigers with 68 aces and Emily Gallegos has 55. Overall the Tigers have served 274.
Unless the Tigers win the regional tournament, there’s an excellent chance that both Fowler and Swink will be headed to the state tournament. Each is inside the top five of RPI and if one wins the regional crown, the other likely gets in as a wildcard. Del Norte must win the title this week to qualify.
REGION #2 – LYONS HIGH SCHOOL
#6 Lyons (19-4)
#7 Wiggins (18-5)
#17 Dawson (16-7)
Because all they all play in either in the highly competitive Mile High or Lower Platte conferences, none of the three teams will be intimidated by the pressure of post-season play. Lyons won the Mile-High title so they go in as the favorite. They also swept Dawson both in league play and district tournament action.
The first sweep of the Mustangs on September 26th started what has become a 10-match winning streak for Lyons. Included in that run is an exciting five-set win over Dayspring Christian in the district championship game. It was the second five game win for Lyons over the defending state champions this season.
Taylor Maguire (279 kills) gets most of the attention from opposing defenses but the sophomore is not the only weapon for the Lions. Ixchel Leeuwenburgh has powered down 168 kills, Sarah Hall 119 and Adele Walker 92. Kylen Christiansen has also provided 708 assists.
The service line is also important to Lyons as they’ve collected 279 aces including 66 from Leeuwenburgh and 65 from Maguire.
Dawson has had a solid season but league losses to Lyons, Dayspring Christian, Denver Christian and Union Colony Prep prevented the Mustangs from a top four league finish. They avenged the loss to Union Colony by beating the Timberwolves 3-2 in district play last week and qualified for regionals with the win. Elisabeth Porrey (310 kills) is the top hitter. Stella Bristol is second with 226. Kierra Porrey has provided a team best 431 assists.
Wiggins survived a wild five-setter against Merino just to qualify for the District Two semifinals. The Tigers trailed in game one 24-16 but scored ten straight points to steal the 26-24 victory. After leading the match 2-0, the Tigers dropped sets three and four before securing a 15-13 decision in game five. The Tigers then avenged a regular season loss to Haxtun and earned a regional invite by beating the Bulldogs 3-0 in the district semifinals.
Four players have at least 120 kills for Wiggins. Tori Jordan (277) is the team leader with Tanna Hansen (187) second, Makayla Harris (151) third and Tasha Hansen (122) fourth. Chloe Baker chips in 860 assists against just seven ball handling errors.
Depending on what happens in other districts, both Lyons and Wiggins seem to be in good shape to land a wildcard if they don’t grab the regional championship. Dawson is too far down the list in RPI so they must win the championship to be a state tournament qualifier.
REGION #3 – MEEKER HIGH SCHOOL
#10 Meeker (20-3)
#19 Ridgway (15-6)
#22 Paonia (16-7)
With only one of the three teams in the top 10 of RPI, it’s highly likely only the regional champion will play into next week. And that should make for some intense volleyball in the Northwest corner of the state this Saturday. Meeker finished second in the WSL during regular season play but then beat Rangely and Paonia last Saturday to capture the district title. Paonia ended up third. Ridgway survived Telluride and Ignacio in five sets apiece in district last week but then ran out of gas in a three-game loss to Dolores in the title match.
Meeker is very young as the top seven hitters on their roster are either sophomores or juniors. Krissie Luce, with 262, has the most kills. She’s followed by Julia Dinwiddie (201), Caleigh Morlan (115) and Sydnie Main (115). Another underclassman, Kassie Luce leads the Cowgirls in assists with 735. The rest of the team has combined for just 17.
Paonia has been the main Western Slope entry into the state tournament for the past decade but graduation losses forced the Eagles to play a much younger roster this year. First year coach Karla Head still directed the Eagles to a third-place finish in both the conference and district tournament.
McKenna Palmer is the one returning player with state tournament experience and she led the Eagles with 275 kills. Randi Rapke was next on the list with 120. Rapke led the team in diggs with 317 and Palmer in aces with 46. Poppy Lightfoot (251) and Carly Horn (240) combined for nearly 500 assists.
Of the six Ridgway losses, half are against San Juan champion Dolores. The Bears won the district matchup in three sets but the two conference contests extended to a full five sets. The Demons overall have won 11 of 13.
Sophomore Emersyn Gentry is their top threat. She has 247 kills this season and already 442 for her short career. Older sister Hannah Gentry is next with 129 kills and Jessi Miller-Cunningham third with 106. Adi Gates, with a team high 347 assists, oversees who gets the most swings.
REGION #4 – DENVER CHRISTIAN HIGH SCHOOL
#9 Denver Christian (19-3)
#28 Calhan (15-8)
#24 Burlington (14-9)
Denver Christian has already beaten Burlington twice this year and their third meeting could determine which team advances to the state tournament. The Thunder beat the Cougars 3-0 back in September and then again 3-1 in the district tournament.
Leading hitter Haley Herder (287 kills) picked up 10 kills in the first meeting for Denver Christian and upped that 17 in the district matchup. Anna Kaemingk (187) is second on the team in kills and finished with nine in both Burlington contests. Jenna Peters tops the Thunder with 345 assists and has been in double figures in the last 16 including a combined 29 in the two Burlington wins.
Burlington advanced to this round because of a three-set win over Byers on Saturday. Sitting 24th in RPI, the Cougars must win the regional round to play into next week. Katarina Hornung is their top hitter with 180 kills and Marly Neal is second with 117. Timber Herman leads the team with 357 assists.
Calhan is in the same boat as the Bulldogs must win two matches on Saturday to reach the state tournament as they’re too far down the RPI standings to earn a wildcard. The Bulldogs finished third in the Black Forest league chase but last week’s win over Colorado Springs School (3-2) bumped them to second in districts. Bailee Carter (140 kills) and Shannon Wilyard (127) are their two best options at the net. Sierra Knox has handed out 372 assists.
REGION #5 – SARGENT HIGH SCHOOL
#16 Sargent (19-4)
#5 Hoehne (18-4)
#33 Custer County (13-10)
Hoehne is a good bet for a wildcard if they fail to win the regional tournament but the Farmers would prefer not to take the chance and beat Sargent and Custer County to qualify automatically. They’ve not faced either this season but after reaching the state semifinals a year ago, they’re hoping to lean on that experience again this week.
The Farmers had won 11 straight before a five-set loss to Fowler last week cost them the district championship. They bounced back to beat Swink in four to take second place and get a good spot in the regional pairings.
Shaelyn Walton (302) went past 300 kills for the season last week and is one who will lean on state experience after getting 40 kills in three matches there last year. Brittanie Hill had 31 kills at state a year ago and is second on the team this year with 183. Averie Navarette is also at triple figures with 104. Tiffany Montoya (373 assists) and Jaylynn Tortorelli (288) both see time at setter.
Southern Peaks champion Sargent has three wins over Custer County this season taking nine of the 11 sets played between the two. The Farmers have played one game against the Santa Fe league falling to Swink (3-2) in the season opener. Other losses are against 3A unbeaten Centauri, 2A regional qualifier Wiggins and 1A regional host Otis.
Complete regular season stats have not been posted to MaxPreps but through mid-season the Farmers top hitter was Lainie Dillon with 141. Three others, Allison Harrison, KaDee Crowther and Alexia Aguilera, had combined for 225.
Custer County has ten losses but only three have come against teams that did not qualify for the regional tournament. Those were against Sanford (twice) and Highland. Others are against the likes of Sargent, Del Norte, Otis and La Veta. They avenged the losses to Sanford last week; beating the Indians in three to qualify out of districts.
Elizabeth Mullett (243 kills) McKensie Penkoff (242) have had nearly identical seasons. Mullett had 47 kills in three matches last Saturday and Penkoff 34.
REGION #6 – YUMA HIGH SCHOOL
#1 Yuma (20-1)
#2 Dayspring Christian (20-3)
#13 Haxtun (16-4)
These pairings are a prime example of why a pre-set regional tournament bracket may not be the best option. Yuma is number one in RPI and Dayspring Christian is second but here they are paired up in the same regional. That means at least one and possibly both will have to wait for a wildcard selection if they don’t win the regional tournament. Their meeting this week will also serve as a rematch of last year’s state championship game won by Dayspring Christian.
Yuma has not lost since failing to protect a two-game edge on University September 16th. Since that frustrating home loss, the Indians have won 14 in a row. Included in the run is a five-set win over Lyons and four-game victory over 3A regional qualifier Sterling. The Indians also knocked off Haxtun and Wiggins twice apiece.
Almost every key player from last year’s state championship loss is back on the Yuma roster. Chasey Blach leads the Indians with 336 kills and Cody Robinson is next with 271. They combined for 32 kills against Dayspring Christian last November. Kenedy Roth had 32 assists and tops the team in that category again this year with 721. Kyle Rayl is another key contributor with 34 aces and 284 digs.
Dayspring Christian dropped into this regional after falling to Lyons in district tournament action. That match went five sets and the Eagles also lost a conference match to the Lions in five games as well. Katie Kurz and Megan Roberts are tied for the state lead with 429 kills apiece which is 88 more than the third-place hitter. No other Eagle has more than 25 for the season so the Indians will focus on those two with their blocks. Talia Donoho sets up the duo and goes into the weekend with 734 assists.
Kurz had 28 kills against Yuma in the state finals and Roberts 24. Donoho did not record an assist as she played behind her older sister Kelsi who picked up 56.
Haxtun is the hard luck team in the bracket. The second-place team in the Lower Platte in the regular season will likely need to upset both opponents to make the state tournament field. Playing both will boost their RPI quite a bit but maybe not enough to be considered for a wildcard should they not advance automatically.
Dawson Knode leads the Bulldogs with 209 kills and Marissa Schelling is second with 200. McKenna Anderson needs just 10 this week to reach 100 for the season. Kaitlyn Anderson, with 492 assists, is the main setter.
REGION #7 – DOLORES HIGH SCHOOL
#8 Dolores (21-1)
#11 Rangely (19-4)
#26 Telluride (15-8)
Dolores is tied with Simla for the most wins of any 2A club going into the regional tournaments but the Bears cannot quite punch their ticket to the state tournament just yet. On deck are two very good challenges as Rangely won the Western Slope regular season championship and Telluride pushed the Bears to five sets in a thrilling district tournament match last Saturday.
The win over Telluride was the third on the season for Dolores but all went at least four games. Telluride also beat Rangely (2-0) in a week one tournament so each team is familiar with one another.
Dolores dropped their season opener to John Mall (2-1) but has reeled off 21 consecutive wins since including a perfect 12-0 run through the San Juan conference. Jordan Elder is the top hitter. She has 277 kills on the season including 42 in the three Telluride wins. Tatum Majors was second in kills with 148 and Sierra Schwartz third with 122. Josie Majors (94) is also nearing triple digits. Abby Jones is tops in assists with 598.
Full statistics are not available on Telluride but Lauryn Purdy is their top offensive threat with 135 kills. Sierra Shambaugh is next with 88 and Baylee Williams has produced 80. Sydney Evans has 198 assists.
Rangely beat Meeker twice during the regular season but could not pull off a third win and comes into this bracket as the District five runner-up. The Panthers had won six straight and 15 of 16. Sarah Connor (159 kills) and Katelyn Brown (156) get almost equal chances at the net and get support from Klaire Denny (90). Kassidee Brown has 440 assists.
Because of RPI, Telluride must win the regional to get a state tournament berth. Dolores and Rangely will both be on the bubble if they don’t grab the crown this weekend. Each will root for the highest seeds to win the remaining seven brackets as that will improve their wildcard chances.
REGION #8 – SIMLA HIGH SCHOOL
#12 Simla (21-2)
#14 Limon (14-9)
#38 Colorado Springs School (13-10)
Even though Simla is tied with Dolores for the most wins of regional qualifiers, the Cubs may have to win this bracket to get a state tournament berth. They’re 12th in RPI and likely won’t move up much this week so a wildcard selection may be out of reach. It’s the same scenario for Limon and Colorado Springs School as neither will likely get a wildcard call if they don’t advance automatically.
Simla is favored as they have wins over both opponents. They swept Limon in the first week of the season and did the same to Colorado Springs School in both Black Forest league and district tournament competition. The Cubs have also won 11 straight dropping just one set to Byers during the streak. Their losses are against defending state champion Dayspring Christian (3-2) and 3A DSST-Stapleton (2-1).
Fourth year starter Jerraldawn Rector leads the Cubs with 341 kills this season. She has 1,628 for her career including 38 in two state tournament matches last November. Depth up front is provided by Kegan Hamacher (154) and Riley Maranville (143). Freshman Kaitlyn Rector has chipped in 85. Chloe Duffy has handed out 565 assists.
In the win over Limon, Rector finished with a team high 14 kills and Hamacher 12. Maranville provided five and Duffy 27 assists. In last week’s district sweep of Colorado Springs School, Rector (12), Hamacher (11) and Maranville (6) combined for 29 kills and Duffy ended with the same number of assists.
CSS is two wins away from reaching a fifth consecutive state tournament. But it’s a completely different lineup than the first four. Natalie Richardi is second on the team with 171 kills and played minutes in the state event last year but two freshmen play important roles as well. Elise Layton is the top hitter with 176 kills and Whitney Richardi third with 101. Sophomore Sarina Mansour leads the Kodiaks with 225 assists.
Limon had won eight straight matches before the district loss to Denver Christian (3-0). Of their nine losses, only one is against a team that did not qualify for regionals (Merino). The Badgers rely heavily on the sister tandem of Anna and Amy Weisensee. Anna leads the team with 234 kills and Amy is third with 79. In-between is Sidney Hines with 149. All three are underclassmen. Amy is also second on the club in assists with 210 assists; just 10 behind team leader Lauren Stang, another sophomore.