There’s still nearly a month of the regular season remaining but a conference champion could be crowned on Thursday. That’s when Simla and Colorado Springs Christian collide in the Black Forest. Ever since the Cubs joined the conference from Class 1A, they’ve battled the Kodiaks for the title and this year appears to be more of the same.
In winning 30 of 32 conference games over the past three years, CSS has earned the nod in the series of late but Simla is favored this year. The Cubs are 11-2 overall while the Kodiaks are just 6-6. Both teams are unbeaten in league play.
Even though they’re favored this year, Simla’s senior class has never beaten CSS. The Cubs have dropped nine straight in the series with their last win coming in 2013. That year the Cubs won the first of two exciting five-set matches but since, CSS has won nine straight and been forced past three sets on only three ocassions.
CSS is rebuilding a bit. After four years of dominating play by Laney Swan, the Kodiaks have turned to Elise Layton to lead the offense. The freshman leads the team with 67 kills. s enior Natalie Richardi is a close second with 64. There is balance as four other Kodiaks are in double figures in the category.
Jerraldawn Rector has tallied 180 kills this year or nearly five per set. The fourth year starter was held to nine kills in a season opening win over Calhan but has not been held under double digits since. Her season of 21 came in a three set sweep of Kiowa.
Riley Maranville is second for Simla with 84 kills and Kegan Hamacher is third with 87. Chloe Duffy, with a team best 320 assists, directs the Cubs attack.
Hotchkiss has an important week on the Western Slope. The Bulldogs are 6-2 in league play and tied for fourth with West Grand. The Bulldogs open the week two games back of league leaders Rangely, Paonia and Meeker and face two of them over a four day stretch. Both matches are at home as they entertain Rangely Tuesday night and then Hotchkiss on Friday.
The Bulldogs fell two games off the past with a three-set loss at Meeker last week. The Bulldogs were outhit 25-11 in kills by the Cowboys and will need to be better at the net to gain a win this week and stay within range of the conference lead.
Carson Collins, with a team high 99 kills, is the number one option on offense. She’s the only Bulldog with more than 25 kills on the season. Collins also leads the team with 25 aces and 41 blocks. Morgan Miller tops the list with 102 assists.
Rangely has won six-in-a-row since a loss to Little Snake River WY in early September. Included in the stretch is a non-league five-set win over Meeker and a four-set conference victory at Vail Mountain. The Panthers feature a nice one-two punch in Katelyn Brown (76) and Sarah Conner (74) with a combined 150 kills.
Paonia has won 62 of their last 63 league games and even though the Eagles are still unbeaten this year, the trek through the conference has not been that easy. Last week, they survived five set matches with Cedaredge and DeBeque. McKenna Palmer had 18 kills and Randi Rapke 12 against Cedaredge and they added 19 and 9 respectively against DeBeque.
Denver Christian has a chance to take complete control of the Mile High chase by beating Dayspring Christian on Thursday. The Thunder are 7-0 in league play and alone in first by one game over Lyons and Dawson. Since they’ve already beaten Lyons in five-sets another win over the defending state champion will keep the Thunder atop the standings with wins over their two toughest opponents.
D-C has won nine straight since a loss to 4A Steamboat Springs on September 2nd. Against Lyons, Halley Herder dropped in 18 kills and Anna Kaemingk added a dozen. The two are also first and second on the season with 140 and 84 kills respectively.
Having already dropped two league matches, the game is almost an elimination game for Dayspring Christian. Another loss leaves the Eagles three games off the pace and not even time left in the season to make up that much ground. Both league losses are in five sets as they lost to Lyons early in league play and Union Colony Prep just last week.
In looking at the statistics, it’s difficult to see how the Eagles came up short. Behind a combined 59 kills from Megan Roberts (33) and Katie Kurz (26), Dayspring outhit the Timberwolves 60-34. The Eagles also collected 12 serves compared to just five for Union Colony. The Timberwolves though had just 16 hitting errors on the night and recorded a whopping 13 blocks.
Based on statistics, it was a diffcult loss for the Eagles. Behind a combined 59 kills from Megan Roberts (33) and Katie Kurz (26), Dayspring finished with 60 kills compared to just 34 for the Timberwolves. They also outserved their in-city rivals; collecting a dozen aces to just five for Union Colony. Kelsey McWhorter, with seven blocks, led the defensive effort.
Thursday’s date is the middle of a difficult three-match week for Denver Christian. The Thunder also host 3A Colorado Academy on Tuesday and then close against Union Colony Prep on Saturday. Based on results against Dayspring Christian, the match with the Timberwolves could also become extremely important.
Lyons (7-1) is tied with Dawson in second place but the Lions has the head-to-head tiebreaker. Coach Mason Johnson’s club also has the easiest remaining league schedule. They’ve already beaten Dayspring Christian, Dawson and Union Colony Prep with the lone league loss coming to Denver Christian. Because of that loss, the Lions will need help from others to land the conference championship.
Hoehne moved into a first place tie with Swink in the Santa Fe by beating the Lions in five sets last week. The two clubs are now 7-2 in conference play and have split their two league battles.
In last week’s win, Shaelyn Walton led the Farmers offense with 23 kills. Brittanie Hill added 12 and Kamryn Baca-Cordova 11. Katelynn Low (5) and Averie Navarette (3) also combined for eight aces.
Skyler Jones topped Swink’s offense with 17 kills but she was the only Lions player to reach double figures. Brooklyn Muller ended the match with nine and Brianna Denton eight. Tierra Holland led the Lions with 22 assists and Jones added 18.
This week, Swink goes to Crowley County on Tuesday and then hosts John Mall on Thursday. The John Mall contest is important as the Panthers are tied with Fowler (6-3) one game back in third place. Hoehne faces Rocky Ford on Tuesday and Las Animas on Thursday.
Yuma looks to build more separation from challengers in the Lower Platte. The top ranked Indians are tied with Holyoke as league unbeatens with Wiggins and Haxtun one game off the pace in the loss column. Coach Jenny Noble’s club scored a big win over Haxtun two weeks ago and is coming off a tournament title in Fort Lupton on Saturday. Wiggins’ lone league loss came against Haxtun last week and the Tigers need an upset to stay in the title chase.
Holyoke doesn’t face Yuma until October 13th. The Dragons have one league match at home against Sedgwick County on Tuesday and then meets Idalia on Saturday. They’re coming off a 2-1 trip to a Kansas Tournament over the weekend.
Dolores took control of the San Juan chase by downing Dove Creek last week. The win leaves the Bears alone atop the standings with wins over Dove Creek and Telluride already in league action. Jordan Elder put down 13 kills in teh win and Tatum Majors added seven. The Bears also out-served the Bulldogs with 14 aces to just four. Abby Jones also dished out 30 assists.
Next up for Dolores is a trip to Whitehorse UT on Tuesday and then a return to conference play against Mancos on Thursday. Shuffling behind the Bears could take place this week as Dove Creek meets Telluride on Friday and Ridgway on Saturday. Those three should battle for spots two through four.
Sargent, Del Norte and Custer County continue to lead the Southern Peaks conference. Sargent is perfect in conference play and is alone in first. Del Norte has one league loss and Custer County two. The Farmers, who have just one match against Center this week, face both challengers next week. Del Norte faces Mountain Valley on Friday and then has two conference matches with Sanford and Crested Butte on Saturday. Custer County entertains Sanford on Friday for their only action this week.
It’s still too early to get a read on the Union Pacific race. Byers (2-0) and Stratton/Liberty (1-0) share the top spot and will play on the 12th. Both teams have difficult league matches on tap this week. The Bulldogs host Burlington on Thursday and two nights earlier, Stratton/Liberty battles Limon. Both opponents have just one league loss and if both win, they could create a five way tie for the conference lead.