With less than three weeks left to the regular season, the 2A volleyball season has officially entered the stretch drive. Only a few matches remain for teams to improve their RPI standing to either host a regional tournament or to make the post-season overall. And there are several conference races still up for grabs.
One league title that will be determined this week is the Lower Platte as Yuma entertains Wiggins on Friday. The winner is the league champion and could also eventually end up as the top overall regional tournament seed. Yuma leads the RPI standings with Wiggins third but the race is very close. The Indians are at .676 with Wiggins at .663. Meeker is in between at .665 so one of the three should end up with the number one seed for regionals and of course, all three will be at home for that round.
Yuma has not dropped a set against a league team and Wiggins only lost one to Akron so both teams have rolled through their conference schedule. Each team has just one league match remaining after this week so the winner clinches the title and the loser will end up second.
Since both teams reached the Final Four and Yuma made the state championship match a year ago, top players from each club are well known names across the state. Yuma up front, is led by Chasey Blach (219 kills) and Cody Robinson (119). Blach moved past 1,000 kills for her career in the five-set win over Kit Carson and Robinson is approaching 900. Taylor Hansen (104) and Elle Roth (66) have provided depth to the pair of three-year starters.
Wiggins counters with the duo of Tanna Hansen (221 kills) and Paige Finegan (134). Hansen is over 600 for her career and is just 30 kills shy of her total from last year. Despite is provided by Bre Gilliland (91), Lexi Steinbar (71) and Tasha Hansen (70).
Along the back line, each team features solid defenders and excellent setters. Yuma’s Reagan Nolin (481 assists) averages nine assists per set and is fourth on the team with 124 diggs. Robinson tops the chart with 246, Blach has 184 and Roth 151.
Wiggins all-state returnee Chloe Baker has 573 assists and needs just 112 more to move past 3,000 for her career. She also tops the Tigers with 166 diggs. Gilliland has 113 and Tanna Hansen 111.
Yuma won both meetings between the two in straight sets last year. The Indians have dominated the Lower Platte as a whole of late with wins in 45 of their last 46 league matches. The last loss came in 2013 to Caliche.
With Otis and Lutheran both suffering losses this week, Meeker is now one of just three unbeaten teams left across the state joining Valor Christian (5A) and Alamosa (3A) with a zero in the loss column. The Cowboys open the week alone in first atop the Western Slope standings and with a one game edge on Vail Mountain and 1A DeBeque. The Cowboys host Paonia on Friday and then have a date with DeBeque next week. They’ve already beaten Vail Mountain.
Paonia may have the most difficult week for teams in the conference. Tied for fourth with Rangely, the Eagles as mentioned face Meeker on Friday and then also tangle with Vail Mountain on Saturday. Paonia has already lost to DeBeque and Rangely so they probably must win both matches this weekend to stay in contention for a top four finish.
Poppy Lightfoot leads Paonia with 125 kills and is also the top defender with 150 diggs. Carly Horn is the assist leader with 196. Other key players are Sadie Miller (73 kills) and Jessica Deaton (62 kills / 144 diggs).
Vail Mountain wraps up their league schedule this week as they also host Hotchkiss on Friday. Wins in both and the Gore Rangers will finish in the top two regardless of what else happens. Sarah Evans, with 239 kills, leads the offense. She sits at 807 for her career. Maggie Sturm is next with 120 and Lexi Linafelter (99) needs one more to reach triple figures.
Vail Mountain is 8th in RPI and could join Meeker as regional hosts from the conference. Paonia is 20th and has an outside chance to get there but they may need to win out to do so. Rangely is 30th overall.
There’s still a very good race atop the Mile-High conference. Denver Christian beat Nederland on Tuesday and improved their mark to 9-0. They have a one game lead on Lyons, Union Colony and Highland so their Thursday date with the Huskies becomes very important to the title chase.
Denver Christian has won every league match in three games and has dropped just three sets all season. They beat Byers 3-1 and lost to 3A unbeaten Alamosa 2-0 in the Glenwood Springs Tournament.
Jacki Bogner (159 kills) and Anna Kaemingk (147) are the first two options at the net. Kate Mitchell leads the defensive effort with 134 diggs while Jenna Peters (215 assists) and Jenai Haman (184) continue to share setting duties. The Thunder are also excellent at the service line. They have 184 aces as a team with five players totaling at least 30. Bogner is tops with 37 and Peters has 35.
Highland lost to Union Colony Prep (3-0) on September 11th but has not lost since; winning their last nine matches. Olivia Himmel (200 kills) and Chloe Bolt (142) represent most of the Huskies offense as no other player has more than 43 kills. Alyssa Winter, with 306 diggs, is among the best defenders in Class 2A. Serinady Segura is next with 167. Maiya Dehoyos leads the Huskies in assists with 272 but Himmel has also chipped in 184.
Serving is also important to the Huskies. They have 127 on the season including 32 from Segura and 30 from Dehoyos.
Regardless of the outcome on Thursday, the race is still wide open as Denver Christian must still play Union Colony Prep and Highland has a future date with Lyons. Lyons goes to Dayspring Christian on Thursday and Union Colony Prep faces Nederland and Dayspring Thursday and Friday.
The league is also strong in RPI with Denver Christian fifth and Union Colony sixth. Highland is 11th and Lyons 13th so the conference could host as many as four regional tournaments next week. The top 12 teams in the final RPI standings earn that honor. Dawson is 15th and also in that discussion.
Second place in the Union Pacific will belong to Thursday’s winner between Byers and 1A Stratton/Liberty. Both have one league loss and trail first place Limon by one game in the loss column. Since Byers has a match with Limon on tap next week, the Bulldogs need a win to stay in the league championship discussion. Stratton/Liberty suffered their league loss to Limon so they need help from others to gain the title and those hopes could be dashed with a loss to Byers.
Through September, Lauren Marin led Byers with 103 kills with Arica Herman and Symantha Linnebur each chipping in 96. Becca Earl has provided 215 assists.
Stratton/Liberty has just three losses overall. In addition to the Limon decision, the Knighted Eagles have come up short to Otis and Kit Carson. They are a very young team gaining valuable experience this year and remain in contention for a strong 1A playoff run. Andrea Hornung has 69 kills, Savannah Rothbauer 65 and Kennedy Frank 55 to lead the offense. All three are underclassmen. Mattie Crouse, another underclassman, has a team high 151 assists.
Rye and Hoehne meet for a second time on Thursday and that match will determine the top spot in the Santa Fe Western division. Rye won the first meeting in five sets and that win is the difference between the two as they hold down the top spots in the standings.
The first match was very close. Both teams finished with 35 kills as Hannah Ambler led Rye wit h11 and Averie Navarette paced Hoehne with nine. Rye had 22 blocks to 16 for Hoehne. Madison Gookin and Ella Peters each had nine for the Thunderbolts and the Farmers collected a dozen from Kaitlyn Baca-Cordova.
A big difference that kept Hoehne in the match was at the service line where they recorded 22 aces to just six for Rye. Hailee Vigil served up seven aces for the Farmers.
Swink has basically clinched the Santa Fe East as they lead Holly by two games in the standings. The Lions go to Burlington in a non-league match on Saturday. The Lions are fourth in RPI and in position to land a first round bye at the state tournament should they advance. Holly meets Rocky Ford on Thursday and Las Animas on Saturday. The Wildcats have climbed all the way to 14th in RPI and now have a chance to host a regional tournament by getting into the top 12 by the end of the season.
Dolores moves past Mancos in three sets on Tuesday and the Bears are now two games up on all other teams to win the 2A portion of the San Juan championship. The Bears though trail 1A Dove Creek by one game for the overall crown and lost to the Bulldogs in their only meeting. Despite the win, Dolores is only 24th in RPI and Mancos dropped to 37th.
Del Norte continues their work through the Southern Peaks by visiting South Park on Friday. The Tigers are two games up on Sanford and Sargent in the league chase and have beaten both twice. Maybe a more interesting battle is a Saturday clash with Sangre De Cristo who sits tied with La Veta atop the 1A Southern Peaks standings.
Del Norte is 9th in RPI and Sanford 12th this week so the Southern Peaks is hoping to land two regional tournaments in the San Luis Valley.
Simla, Colorado Springs School and Peyton are 1-2-3 in the Black Forest and we don’t expect those standings to change before the end of conference play. Simla has beaten CSS and Peyton and the Kodiaks have a win over the Panthers so the three leaders have already squared off. Simla goes to Fountain Valley on Friday and then gets in a good challenge with Limon on Saturday. The Cubs could also get tested next week against Fowler and Rye.
All three conference leaders could be on the road come the post-season. Simla, at #17, is the highest ranked team from the Black Forest. Colorado Springs School is 23rd and Peyton 25th.