While some teams opened their season as early as August 25th, Dayspring Christian has had to wait until this week to see official game action.  The schedule though picks up speed for the defending state champions as the Eagles meet Front Range Christian Thursday and then could see four matches at the NJC Tournament in Sterling on Saturday.
Dayspring won all 29 matches in their 2016 state championship run and carries that winning streak into this week.  They return the hitting tandem of Katie Kurz and Megan Roberts who have combined for over 15-hundred kills for their careers.  The key for the Eagles making another run to a state title could be the development of sophomore setter Talia Donoho.  She recorded 207 assists backing up her older sister a year ago but will run with the first unit this season.
The Eagles are placed in the same pool with Peetz, Nucla and Holyoke at the NJC event and we’ll post the entire schedule with teams competing later in the week.
Mile High league rival and #5 Lyons is on the Dayspring schedule for next week and both teams must avoid looking past this week to that big matchup.  The Lions have just one match on the agenda this week and they’ll be favored at Heritage Christian on Thursday.  But they’ve been very busy since our last report going 5-1 in the past seven days.  The Lions came up short to 3A Resurrection Christian in five sets but then won five straight including four in a row to capture the West Grand tournament title.
Taylor Maguire was named the tournament MVP in leading the Lions past Peyton, Clear Creek, Meeker and Gilpin County.  She had 31 kills in the four wins upping her season total to a team best 75.  She also recorded eight aces, 12 blocks and 17 assists.
In addition to Dayspring Christian next week, the Lions then face #9 Union Colony Prep and #10 Denver Christian in succession.  League wise, it’s their most important stretch of the season and wins in all three should land the Lions the Mile HIgh crown.
Denver Christian was also involved in tournament play over the weekend and they went 3-1 while competing against 3A and 4A schools in Glenwood Springs.  They lost to Steamboat Springs but topped Rifle, Grand Valley and 3A #10 Pagosa Springs while there.  Hally Herder had 33 kills including 24 in Friday wins over Grand Valley and Pagosa Springs.  Anna Kaemingk added 21 kills including 10 against the Pirates.
Up this week for the Thunder is just one match as they go to Longmont Christian for a league opener on Thursday.
Union Colony remained in the rankings this week despite a five-set loss to Wiggins last week.  The Thunderwolves collected 16 kills from Lynndee Viek and eight from Mayson Vago in the loss.  Vieks’ total was more than the 15 combined kills in wins over 1A rivals Pawnee and Briggsdale.  Union Colony meets Prairie on the road Tuesday and then entertains league rival Nederland on Thursday.
With the win over Union Colony, Wiggins steps into a possible four-team group that should battle for second place in the Lower Platte.  #2 Yuma, which has played in the last three state championship matches, remains the heavy favorite but Wiggins, Merino, Holyoke and Akron could battle for the runner-up spot.  That’s crucial as the second and third place teams sit opposite the Indians in the district tournament bracket.
Wiggins picked up 13 kills from Tori Jordan and 10 from Makayla Harris against Union Colony.  Tanna Hansen provided depth with nine kills.  Overall, the Tigers also served up 15 aces including a team best five from Jordan.
The Tigers have a key league match with Akron on Thursday and then head up to Bailey to challenge Platte Canyon on Saturday as part of a volleyball-football doubleheader.
Akron’s loss to Holyoke dropped them to 0-2 on the season but better results are likely in their future.  New coach Katie Kuntz is used to winning.  A state championship player at nearby Otis, she’s also the daughter of the Bulldogs long-time and very successful coach Bonnie Wallin-Kuntz.  Akron is also very young this year as freshman Sara Wylie went for a team best 15 kills against Holyoke and classmate Maria DeMers dished out 22 assists.
Holyoke was led in hitting against Akron by 23 kills from senior Grace Dille in just 45 chances.  Emma Rolle added nine kills and Taeryn Trumper seven.  Savannah Burris was also very busy in the match; finishing with 45 assists.  The Dragons have two key league matches on the schedule this week against Merino on Tuesday and at Caliche on Friday.  As mentioned, they’ll also compete in the NJC tournament and will meet top ranked Dayspring Christian in the pool round.
Merino won just nine matches in 2016 but returns their core group of hitters Lydia Stegner, Harley Gentry and Larissa Fritzler who combined 337 kills last season.  After Holyoke, they also visit league rival Haxtun on the road Friday.
Yuma is 3-0 and has not dropped a set in rolling past Resurrection Christian, Limon and Sedgwick County.  Chasey Blach (16) and Cody Robinson (15) combined for 31 kills in the league win over SedgCo.  The Indians scored 11 aces including four from Reagan Nolin and three from Robinson.
Next up for the Indians are two non-conference matches against Chase County NE (Tuesday) and Brush (Thursday).
Paonia should face a tougher schedule this week when they line up against Coal Ridge on Tuesday.  The Titans have reached the 3A state tournament each of the past two years.  Paonia won the matchup in four sets last year behind a dozen kills from returnee McKenna Palmer.  Randi Rapke chipped in five digs, one assist and an ace in last year’s victory.  Coal Ridge returns Cara Morgan who had six kills as a sophomore against the Eagles a year ago.
The Eagles, who have three-game sweeps of Plateau Valley and Norwood on their resume thus far, also have home league dates with Soroco and Hayden Friday and Saturday.
Coming up next week for the Eagles is a key league match with #8 West Grand.  The Mustangs were kept in the 2A rankings this week despite a 2-2 run at their own tournament on Saturday.  They handled Gilpin County and Sanford but dropped four-setters to both Clear Creek and Cedaredge.
Before West Grand thinks about Paonia next week, they must tangle with #8 Middle Park (3A) on Thursday.  Middle Park beat the Mustangs in three sets a year ago and will be favored again this week.  Sydney Ritschard and Hailey McNichols enter the match tied for the team lead in kills with 59.  They combined for 10 kills against Middle Park last season.
#4 Hoehne survived their first Santa Fe league test in beating Fowler in five sets last week and now the Farmers could see another challenge against Swink on Tuesday.  The visiting Lions are unbeaten (2-0) and have momentum from a five-set win over Sargent last week.  In that match, Swink led 2-0 and then after dropping sets three and four recovered to take set five 15-6.  Sophomore Brooklyn Mueller recorded 10 kills to lead the Lions.  Skyler Jones and Alyssa Chavez added seven apiece but the Lions hit just 24 percent for the match.
The Farmers meantime slammed home 62 kills in their marathon match with Fowler.  Shaelyn Walton led with 20 while Brittanie Hill (16) and Averie Navarette (12) also reached double figures.  Hoehne won all three matches with Swink a year ago but one went five sets and another four.
#6 Simla and #7 Colorado Springs School are expected to fight it out for the Black Forest crown.  Combined the clubs have played and won three matches thus far.  Simla has swept both Calhan and Limon while the Kodiaks took out Peyton on the 29th.
In beating Limon, the Cubs picked up 14 kills from Jerraldawn Rector and 12 from Kagan Hamacher.  Those two will likely lead the team in every match this season.  Colorado Springs chalked up just 22 kills overall against Peyton but were led by freshman Elise Layton with eight kills.  She also had four aces and 13 assists in her first high school match.
Simla is off until Saturday when they host a tournament featuring Byers, DSST-Stapleton and Kennedy.  Colorado Springs will get tested at home Tuesday night against Manitou Springs and has a road trip to Fowler on the schedule next week.
The entire top 10 schedule for all classes this week can be found by clicking here.  We’ll post results there throughout the week.  Final scores can be sent to Colorado Preps by text to 970.380.7737, by email to [email protected] or by twitter @coloradopreps.