DENVER — Sophomore Lauryn Uyemura and the Platte Valley girls volleyball team wasn’t in the mood for anything resembling deja vu Saturday at the Denver Coliseum.
The Broncos weren’t going to let a five-set thriller slip away against a powerful Lamar team for the second year in a row.
And something else they weren’t going to let happen again: they had no intention of losing again after dropping their first match of this year’s tournament just two days earlier.
Third-seeded Platte Valley completed a near-perfect campaign in the three-day Class 3A state tournament with an absolutely flawless finish, defeating top-seeded Lamar in a five-set thriller in the title match Saturday night.
The Broncos withstood a furious late rally by the Thunder to win 28-30, 25-20, 25-21, 19-25, 16-14.
“We’ve been there before — Lamar got us in five last year, it was the same situation in the fifth set,” said Uyemura, Platte Valley’s standout setter. “That couldn’t happen again. We wanted to win this so bad. When we’re mad and our team really wants to win, you can’t stop us.”
The Broncos capped their 26-5 season by adding on to their state record with a 15th state volleyball title. It was Platte Valley’s first such championship since 2003.
A year ago, Uyemura and her Broncos teammates saw their state title pursuit cut just one match short of the finals, as Lamar rallied in the final set to edge Platte Valley 16-14.
But this time around, the only rallying the Broncos were going to allow was the incredible rally they engineered after dropping their first match of the tournament, 3-0, to league rival University on Thursday.
After that loss, Platte Valley didn’t lose again in the tournament.
It couldn’t afford to, as the tournament is double-elimination.
But what might be most impressive was exactly how the Broncos dominated the rest of the tournament. After the loss to University, they swept their next four opponents leading into the title match, including a somewhat stunning 3-0 win against another league rival and tournament favorite, Eaton, in the semifinals earlier Saturday.
Platte Valley sophomore outside hitter Karsyn Fetzer said that early loss to the Bulldogs actually allowed she and her teammates to relax and refocus a bit. The pressure of trying to be perfect in a state tournament that allows just a little margin for error was gone.
“We realized we’re here to have fun and our coaches told us, ‘Win or lose, you need to have fun. We came here to build memories,'” Fetzer said. “After that, we just all came together and had fun together. It just flipped a switch for us.”