3A Regional Volleyball Preview

Postseason volleyball gets started this weekend, as the regional round will narrow the field to eight teams, who will compete at the state tournament at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, beginning May 12th. We take a quick look at each region. All regions play Saturday.

 

REGION 1:  #1 EATON (14-0), #16 VANGUARD SCHOOL (10-3), #24 BASALT (10-4)

After winning five consecutive titles from 2013-17, Eaton missed the finals each of the last two seasons. The Reds rolled to the Patriot League title this season, dropping a total of seven sets the entire campaign. Their unbeaten mark includes wins over eight postseason teams, including 5A Fossil Ridge and 4A Mead.

Sydney Leffler is the big hammer in the Eaton attack, averaging more than four kills per set. Her 205 kills are nearly 100 more than the next closest on the team. Abbey Hays holds that second spot with 107 kills. Hays also has 203 digs and 21 aces to her credit. Sophomore Rylee Martin does a bit of everything for the Reds, leading the team in assists (444), blocks (28), and aces (26). Delaney Oschner leads the squad with 275 digs and is second with 23 aces.

Vanguard had its eight-match winning streak snapped late in the season, as the Coursers closed out with losses to Lamar and Manitou Springs. That skid caused the Coursers to finish third in the Tri-Peaks, behind those two opponents. Vanguard went 2-2 against regional qualifiers, adding wins over St. Mary’s and 2A Colorado Springs School.

The Coursers have three very strong servers, with Abby Meinen (46), Isis Rivera (45), and Ainsley Skur (44) combining for 135 aces. They are also the top three in digs, with Rivera topping the list at 204, followed by Skur at 131, and Meinen at 101. Sophia Bredder leads the hitting parade with 96 kills, while Aubree Lang’s 2.5 kills per set (80 in 32 sets) is best on the squad. Jaden Fuqua’s 250 assists are tops, and Skur adds 133.

Despite finishing 34th in the seeding index, Basalt grabbed the final spot in the regional field by winning the Western Slope title. The Longhorns dropped their first three matches, all to 4A squads, including #4 Eagle Valley. They then ran off seven straight wins, the first six by sweeps.

Karina Bauer pounds out almost three kills per set (147/50 sets) to lead the squad, but there are three others on the team who present problems for opponents. Gabby Narby (85), Macy Scherer (81), and Riley Dolan (80) all have tallied at least 80 kills this season. Directing the offense is Lexi Lowe, who has recorded 441 assists. She’s also served a team-high 29 aces. Dolan is first on the team with 203 digs and second with 24 blocks, seven behind Scherer for the team lead.

 

REGION 2:  #2 MONTEZUMA-CORTEZ (12-0), #15 MANITOU SPRINGS (9-3), #23 DELTA (11-3)

Montezuma-Cortez dropped a total of seven sets this season, picking up sweeps in half of their matches. The Panthers rolled to the title in the Intermountain, beating qualifiers Alamosa, Centauri, Bayfield, and Pagosa Springs twice apiece. Add in a win over 1A qualifier Dove Creek, and 75% of their victories were over teams still in play this weekend.

Adezdiin Boeckman (371 assists) sets up an attack that features Avery Wright (150 kills), Myka Glover (117 kills), and Devon McHenry (87 kills). McHenry leads the team with 23 aces, and is second with 144 digs. Amber Wood tops the team with 149 digs is trails only McHenry with 12 aces. Defensively at the net, Grace Olsen has 28 blocks, followed closely by Glover (25), Wright (24), and Kylie Lake (22).

A late two-match losing streak to playoff teams St. Mary’s and 4A’s The Classical Academy hurt Manitou Springs, but the Mustangs stormed back with three straight wins in the final week of the regular season to right the ship. They had an early season loss to Lamar, but began and ended the season with quality wins over 2A Fowler and fellow Tri-Peaks foe, Vanguard.

Avah Armour not only leads the team with 152 kills, but she nearly has as many kills as the next three players on the team, combined. The sophomore also leads with 28 aces and is second with 17 blocks. Katy Vance is second with 58 kills and 27 aces, while Bella Coscetti tops the blocking chart, turning back 20 opposing attacks, while also standing third on the team with 55 kills. Mahlia Glass is nearly 100 digs clear of second place on the team, registering 243 to date. Junior setter Alexia Vigil (323) has all but five of the Mustangs’ assists.

One of the hottest teams in the entire field is Delta, who rolls in on an 10-match winning streak. An early three-match skid had the Panthers 1-3 before they began their current run. All three of those losses came against postseason teams, including 4A Montrose. They did not beat a team that qualified for regionals.

Raelee McCurdy holds a slight edge over Erika Kuta (97-93) for the team lead in kills. Kuta is also top two in digs with 114, blocks (27), and aces (14). Ellie Ames leads with 36 aces and is second with 21 blocks. Jillian Carlson has recorded 266 assists.

 

REGION 3:  #3 STERLING (12-2), #14 CENTAURI (6-7), #22 EAGLE RIDGE ACADEMY (10-3)

The defending state champs finished second to Eaton in the Patriot League, and nearly overcame a 2-0 deficit against the Reds before falling in five. The other loss by the Tigers occurred early in the season to Resurrection Christian. The Tigers closed the regular season with eight consecutive wins. They own wins over 1A qualifiers Merino and Fleming, as well as fellow 3A squads University, Liberty Common, Lutheran, and two over Platte Valley.

Allie Schumacher directs the attack with 417 assists, many to Sydney Henry, who has pounded down 212 kills. Henry leads the Tigers with 210 digs, and is second with 37 aces. Schumacher has added 34 aces. Kaylee Johnson is tops with 46 aces and 28 blocks, and is second with 83 kills. Emerie Rios is one back in the kill category, and Valerie Allen has added 77 kills. Senior libero Aubree Long has contributed 202 digs, second most on the squad.

If it seemed like Centauri was always playing a top flight opponent during the regular season, that was nearly the case. Twelve of the 13 matches the Falcons played were against postseason qualifiers, including 4A Durango. They went 5-7 in those matches. That strength of schedule helped carry the team into the regional round. The Falcons enter the round with four straight wins under their belt.

That difficult schedule led to so impressive defensive numbers for the Falcons, including two players with more than 90 blocks. Courtney Hamilton recorded 93 blocks (62 solo) and Camrey Ruybal has 91 (48 solo). When attacks got past the block, Abby Smith registered 357 digs. Ruybal led the team with 100 kills, and four other Falcons had at least 69. They were the beneficiary of Ashtyn Haslett’s setting, as the senior recorded 331 assists.

Eagle Ridge Academy is aiming for a second straight state appearance, after the Warriors went 1-2 last season in the big event. Two of their three losses this season were against Skyview, one in non-league play. The Warriors dropped the league contest in five. They bounced back with two wins before falling to Weld Central in five to wrap up the regular season.

Grace Seifert leads the way with 91 kills, and her 112 digs are second to Annaliese Williamson Thomas’ 118. Williamson Thomas has registered 145 assists to pace the Warriors. Aspen Miller, who is second with 56 kills, has a team-high 32 aces. That’s one more than Anna Tate.

 

REGION 4:  #4 LAMAR (14-0), #13 PLATTE VALLEY (8-6), #21 PAGOSA SPRINGS (4-8)

Lamar spent the regular season on a roll. The Tri-Peaks champs did not drop a single set during the regular portion of the campaign. The Savages are the only team in the state, regardless of classification, with that distinction. They did it against a schedule that included six regional qualifiers.

The Savages have a dynamic duo on the attack, with sophomore Sydney Dunning (190) and junior Fernanda Merancio (181) combining for 371 kills. Dunning has added 58 aces and 111 digs, while Merancio has a team-high 15 blocks. Courtney Sneller leads the team with 127 digs, and sophomore setter Abby Robbins has 387 assists.

Platte Valley posted a 1-5 mark against the top teams in the Patriot, as the Broncos finished fifth in the league. Outside of league play, they picked up a win over 1A qualifier Briggsdale, while falling in three sets to the top seed in 2A, Wiggins. That loss to Wiggins snapped a six-match winning streak. Half of the wins in that run were in five sets.

Most of the stat categories have the same last name at or near the top, Schissler. Junior Cora leads with 320 assists, 148 digs, and 41 aces, while sophomore Andi leads with 15 blocks, is second with 93 kills and 121 digs, and her 27 aces are third on the team. Brooke Bunting is the top hitter for the Broncos, with 104 kills to her credit. Senior Sarah Smith has 31 aces, good for second on the team.

Despite having the worst mark of all qualifiers, Pagosa Springs finds itself two wins away from state. The Pirates went winless in Intermountain play, with all seven losses coming to postseason teams. They also had a non-league loss to 4A Durango. Helping their cause were non-league wins over 2A qualifiers Del Norte and Dolores. The Pirates snapped a four-match losing streak with a win over Monte Vista in the regular season finale.

The top three hitters for Pagosa Springs are within four kills of each other. Kori Lucero is tops with 77, while River Pitcher has 74, and Molly Graham checks in with 73. Graham is first on the squad with 23 blocks, ahead of Chloe Bridges, who has 17. Bridges leads the Pirates with 255 assists and 145 digs.

 

REGION 5:  #5 UNIVERSITY (11-2), #12 MIDDLE PARK (11-3), #20 HIGHLAND (11-3)

University heads up what might be the most competitive region, as all three teams enter with 11 wins on the season. The Bulldogs finished third in the Patriot, with their two losses coming against two of the top three seeds (Eaton, Sterling). Along with wins over qualifiers Platte Valley, Resurrection Christian, and Liberty Common in league play, the Bulldogs also picked up victories over Lutheran, and 1A qualifier Briggsdale. They’ve won five straight entering regional play.

Senior Kylie Williams often finds herself on both ends of big swings. She leads the Bulldogs with 129 kills and is second with 191 digs. Williams trails only Caitlin Harr’s 219 digs. Aesha Alrashed is closing in on 100 kills, needing three to hit that mark. She also has a team-high 45 blocks (32 solo). Daryn Whitmoyer is atop the standings for assists (219) and aces (27).

Midway through an early season tournament, Middle Park saw its record standing at 3-2. The Panthers went on to rip off eight straight wins, including one over 2A qualifier West Grand. Two of their losses came to the same team, DSST: Montview, in the opener and finale.

Bella Svoboda not only directs the show with 351 assists, but also contributes 80 digs and 26 aces for the Panthers. Elizabeth Hammond (120 kills), Dominyka Reventaite (106), Brianna Renteria-Rios (92), and Katie Trail (91) give her plenty of options to set up in the hitting game. Renteria-Rios is atop the service stats with 31 aces, while Trail leads the team with 108 digs and 27 blocks.

Making the climb to 3A this season, Highland has responded by being one of the final 24 teams alive in the classification. The Huskies went 2-3 against regional qualifiers, all in Mile High league play. They enter play with a six-match winning streak.

Alexus Rigg powers the attack with 113 kills, just short of three per set. The senior also has a team-high 35 blocks on the season. Madilyn Nelson is second on the team in several categories, including kills (78), digs (112), and aces (33). Billie Sittner is tops in serving, tallying 47 aces. Kelsey Truax is first with 125 digs, and Taryn Winter leads the Huskies with 304 assists.

 

REGION 6:  #6 BAYFIELD (9-4), #11 RESURRECTION CHRISTIAN (8-4), #19 DSST: BYERS (11-0)

Bayfield’s first five matches were against other regional teams, and the Wolverines made it through that stretch with a 3-2 mark. Down the stretch, they went 5-2 with one of the losses being against a postseason team. The Wolverines closed out the season with a five-set win over 4A qualifier Montrose.

The Wolverines have three hitters with more than 100 kills, led by Melissa Roberts with 166. Annette Fusco has added 138, and Macee Schulz comes in with 116. Setting them up is Sage Killough, who has tallied 450 assists with one error. Roberts and Schulz are the top blockers for Bayfield, entering regionals with 30 and 28, respectively. Emily Nelson has contributed team-leading totals of 208 digs and 25 aces.

Two of Resurrection Christian’s losses came to teams hosting regionals this weekend (Eaton, University), while the other two came against squads still in play (Liberty Common, Lutheran). The Cougars also own wins over three regional qualifiers in Sterling, Platte Valley, and DSST: Montview.

Reagan McWhinney paces the team with 102 kills and 18 aces, while Jeorgia Jones adds 98 kills and 15 blocks. Aly Reeser (71 kills, 18 aces, 110 digs) is top three in multiple categories, while Lexi Reeser leads the team in digs with 160. Kylee Nordhagen has 332 assists and five errors in almost 900 chances.

A quick glance at the record for DSST: Byers would lead you to question why the Falcons are not seeded higher. But, looking at the entire body of work, during which they only dropped a total of six sets, shows that the Falcons only played one team that is playing in regionals. That win came over 2A Addenbroke Classical in four sets. The low seed gives the team a chip on the shoulder heading into Saturday.

One area in which the Falcons really excel is service. They’ve recorded 192 aces as a team, with 51 coming from senior Edna Bernal. Millie Lucyk has added 37, while Abigail Tomczyk has 26. Ingrid Schubert is the lone player with more than 50 kills, as the sophomore has recorded 54. Katelyn Osborne has registered 179 digs, nearly 100 more than anyone else on the roster.

 

REGION 7:  #7 DSST: MONTVIEW (12-1), #10 PROSPECT RIDGE ACADEMY (12-1), #18 ST. MARY’S (10-4)

Outside of a loss to Resurrection Christian, DSST: Montview only dropped one other set all season. That was against Middle Park, early in the season. The Knights finished with the two wins over Middle Park, and they also picked up a win over 2A Dawson School. The Knights, champions of the Frontier, enter the regional round having won their final three matches of the regular season.

Opponents have three difficult hitters to defend, as the Knights have an attack led by Michid Battumur (95 kills), Maral Battumur (95 kills), and Jada Lawson (93 kills). Senior Claire Berns has recorded 391 assists, mostly to those three. Lawson is responsible for a team-high 18 blocks. Ja’Nya Daniels is tops with 121 digs, followed by Munkhjin Tsagoo with 120.

Only a four-set loss to Lutheran on April 1st stood between Prospect Ridge Academy and an unbeaten regular season. The Miners put together eight straight sweep victories after that loss to close out the regular portion of the schedule. The biggest of those wins may have been over Middle Park.

Sierra Leopold leads the action at the net, registering 133 kills and 36 blocks, both tops on the team. Bella Heinmiller is the only other player on the squad in triple digit kills, tallying 105. The senior is second on the roster with 119 digs, four behind Ella Young. Addie Freedle has 208 assists, while Kenna DeKloe has added 126. The duo has only committed three errors this season.

Of the four teams who beat St. Mary’s during the season, three are playing this weekend. That group includes Liberty Common, Vanguard, and Lamar. The Pirates claimed a non-league win over 2A Colorado Springs School, and an important league victory over Manitou Springs.

While the other two teams in the region have multiple weapons in the hitting game, the Pirates have a very clear #1 in Jillian Kellick. The senior has 199 kills, while second on the team is at 83. She also has compiled 48 blocks (33 solo), and is one of three players on the team with 35 or more aces. Ceanne Smith has 38, and Emma White leads with 41. Sophomore setter Peyton Priddy has racked up 450 assists so far this year.

 

REGION 8:  #8 ALAMOSA (10-3), #9 LUTHERAN (9-3), #17 LIBERTY COMMON (8-6)

Runner-up in the Intermountain, Alamosa went the distance six times this season, winning four of those extended contests. One of the losses was to Montezuma-Cortez, who also beat the Mean Moose in three sets earlier in the season. The other was to Bayfield, who earned a split of the season series. Alamosa ended up with seven wins over postseason qualifiers.

Malia Tuioti-Mariner (174) and Alyssa Crowther (146) have combined for 320 kills, and sophomore Avery Mobbley has added 93 more. Sophomores Mary Masias (63 blocks) and Sydney Jackson (58 blocks) control the net defensively, while behind them, Mila Cook has piled up 370 digs. Mobbley (253), Tuioti-Mariner (251), and Crowther (195) have also registered impressive numbers on the back line.

Lutheran picked up the Metro title while dropping only one set in league play. That was to Prospect Ridge. The Lions got a big non-league victory over Rez, but came up short in crossover action with Eaton, Sterling, and University from the Patriot.

Audrey Brgoch leads the Lions with 140 kills and 38 aces, while also being second with 108 digs. Kaitlyn Beskur adds 81 kills and Kenzi McSpadden, 77. McSpadden is tied with Brindelyn Schneider in blocks with 19. Carys Norten leads with 26. Bella Vezzani is tops on the team with 204 digs, and second with 32 aces. Senior setter Sabrina King has tallied 255 assists.

Liberty Common finished sixth in the Patriot, with all of the teams above them qualifying for the postseason. The Eagles earned a tough league win over Resurrection Christian, and also bolstered their cause with an early season victory over St. Mary’s.

Sophomore Reina Krueger is the dominant force at the net for the Eagles, posting 142 kills and 72 blocks, while also tallying 94 digs and 26 aces. Freshman Lillian Tullius has added 98 kills and 31 blocks. Sarah Bartels leads the team with 27 aces, while also registering 180 assists. Ashley Sanchez had 198 assists as a junior. Hadlee Kaiser is head and shoulders clear of anyone else with 250 digs. Brooklyn Gefre is next with 99.

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