Regional tournaments in Class 3A this year have a different feel as at least three teams unfamiliar with hosting post-season events get the chance to do so. Eagle Ridge Academy, Skyview Academy and DSST-Montview join traditional volleyball powers in the RPI Top 12 and will get the opportunity to play at home this weekend.
Winners of the 12 events advance to the state tournament November 14-16th at the Denver Coliseum. Lutheran is the defending state champion and the top seed in this year’s field.
The Lions are one of two unbeaten clubs in the division; joining #2 Sterling at 23-0 this year. Those two along with #3 Alamosa are heavily favored to advance through their bracket with ease for return trips to the state tournament. Lutheran has key players Payton Brgoch and Kennedy Johnson returning from last year’s state championship club and should get by Liberty Common and Lake County. Sterling may see a challenge from St Mary’s as the #23 Pirates are led by David Barkley. He’s the former coach at Cheyenne Mountain and led that program to five consecutive 4A state championships so he knows what it takes to win in the post-season. The main concern for Alamosa may be rust. The Moose haven’t played in two weeks since clinching another Intermountain championship. But they’re favored against #22 St Mary’s Academy and #34 Florence.
The remaining nine brackets all have at least two and some with three teams that could advance to next week’s state event.
REGION 4: #4 Faith Christian, #21 Centauri, #33 DSST-College View
Faith Christian is favored but Centauri has played well against top level competition. The Falcons finished third in the IML behind Alamosa and Bayfield but pushed the league champs to four and five sets. They also fell to Lamar in another five-set marathon. Dynae Johnson leads the Falcons with 136 kills and Brynli Sowards has 120. Ashtyn Haslett dished out 435 assists.
Faith ended up second to Lutheran in the Metro but then went 4-2 at the league tournament to end up third. The Eagles played just five matches against non-league teams and won three of them including a nice victory over Resurrection Christian. Caty Havekost, with 194 kills, is the top hitter. Makenna Hachen is next with 155. Allure Padilla, with 493 assists, directs the attack.
REGION 5: #5 Colorado Springs Christian, #20 Valley, #32 Peak to Peak
This is a good pairing of volleyball heavyweights as Colorado Springs Christian and Valley are both typically in the running for the state championship. The Lions are a top threat again this year but the Vikings had a tough stretch through mid-season where they dropped six of seven. As a result, they fell to 20th in RPI and will be on the road this week instead of hosting.
One of the losses during that stretch came to Colorado Springs Christian as the Lions rolled to a 3-0 win. Charlie Tidwell had 23 kills and Kayla Merckx eight as they outhit the Vikings 47-21. Vikings standout Delaney Eckhardt was limited to just nine kills.
Colorado Springs Christian won the Tri Peaks title (3-0) and is unbeaten against 3A teams. Losses came against 5A Chatfield and 4A Erie. The Vikings closed the year at the Coal Ridge where they won three of four matches; falling to 4A Glenwood Springs.
REGION 6: #6 Eagle Ridge Academy, #19 Englewood, #31 Delta
This is new territory for Eagle Ridge Academy as the Warriors are hosting a regional for the first time in school history. Even though they’re 21-2 on the season and winners of the Confluence league, the seed may be a bit high as the conference as a whole has never won a post-season match. As a result, we fell this bracket is wide open with all three teams having a chance to advance.
The Warriors have solid wins over Jefferson Academy, Skyview Academy, Peak to Peak, DSST-Montview and DSST-College View (3 times0 and all those teams are in the regional field. Losses are against St Mary’s Academy (3-0) who is seeded #23 in the bracket and 2A Simla.
Englewood won 18 games while playing a predominantly 4A schedule. They shared the Colorado 7 championship with Skyview as the rivals split two league matches. The Pirates also lost to 4A Woodland Park and University at last week’s Manitou Springs tournament. Senior Devyn Hainey paced the Pirates with 321 kills and Lily Johnson provided 183.
Led by the sophomore tandem of Raelee McCurdy (172 kills) and Erika Kuta (131), Delta is very young but they placed third behind Coal Ridge and Cedaredge on the Western Slope. They have just four wins outside the conference but this a good draw from them as they can compete with both opponents.
REGION 7: #7 Lamar, #18 Platte Valley, #30 Montezuma Cortez
This could be a tremendous regional final between Lamar and Platte Valley as both clubs have played strong schedules and are battle tested for the playoff push.Remove featured image
Lamar won 18 games this season with five losses coming against teams that are hosting regional tournaments this weekend. Those losses are against Sterling, Eaton, University and Colorado Springs Christian from 3A and 4A top seeded Pueblo County. They also took at least one set from each opponent other than a 2-0 loss to Sterling at the Tigers Invitational.
Freshman play key roles for the Savages as Sydney Dunning leads the team in kills (336) and Abby Robbins in assists (790). How well those two respond in the post-season could determine how far the Savages go. There is experience on the roster as well with senior Maddie Williams producing 326 kills.
Platte Valley also has plenty of tournament experience on their roster as they’re a regular visitor to state. But the Broncos have lost four of their last six including Patriot league losses to Sterling and Eaton.
Montezuma Cortez was expected to challenge Alamosa for the IML crown but instead finished fourth behind the Moose, Bayfield and Centauri.
REGION #8: #8 Skyview Academy, #17 Coal Ridge, #29 Colorado Academy
Another team hosting a regional for the first time is Skyview Academy. The Hawks went 17-6 on the season with three losses to Metro champion Lutheran. Another loss came against Colorado Academy and they will see the Mustangs again this week in regionals.
Three players have at least 100 kills for Skyview Academy. The group is led by Keara Wallen with 155. Freshman Sara Bath (245 assists) and senior Rachel Bigler (225) share the setting duties.
Colorado Academy beat Skyview Academy in five sets behind 16 kills from Merrill Rollhaus and 15 from Jasmine Moore. That win should give them confidence going into the rematch and the regional pairing with Coal Ridge.
The Titans may actually be the favorite going in as they captured a second consecutive Western Slope championship. They got a late win over then-unbeaten Cedaredge to land the championship but they again are on the road in regionals while the Bruins are at home. They finished 2-2 at their own tournament over the weekend with losses to Valley and 4A Glenwood Springs. Taylor Wiescamp (256 kills) is their top hitter. Brecken Guccini is next with 192. Ari Cornejo doled out 340 assists and Phoebe Young 307.
REGION 9: #9 University, #16 Bennett, #28 Jefferson Academy
Maybe another two-team battle for this one as both University and Bennett have collected quality wins down the stretch. The Bulldogs have won their last seven following back-to-back losses to Platte Valley and Sterling. Bennett has won 17 of 19 matches including a nice win over Platte Valley (3-2) on November 1st. The Tigers were runner-up to DSST-Montview in the Frontier league tournament but beat them during the regular season to capture that crown.
University is more battle tested overall as their schedule is littered with regional qualifiers from 2A, 3A and 4A. Juniors Kylie Williams (234 kills) and Caitlin Harr (346 diggs) are the leaders of the team along with senior Aliyah Hernandez (292 assists).
REGION #10: #10 Eaton, #15 Prospect Ridge, #27 Vanguard
Somewhat of a low regional seed for Eaton considering the Reds have just one 3A loss and that came against #2 Sterling. The remaining six losses came against top clubs in the 4A and 5A ranks so maybe the Reds should be a bit higher in the bracket. There’s also the history as Eaton has won five of the six state championships in 3A.
Sydney Leffler leads the offense with 323 kills and Abbey Hays has 190. Both are juniors. Delaney Oschner tops the defense with 374 diggs and Andie Anderson handed out 662 assists.
Prospect Ridge made the state tournament for the first time in school history last year and despite heavy graduation losses, the Miners put together another solid campaign (14-9). They ended up tied for third with Skyview Academy in the Metro. Sierra Leopold finished the regular season with a team-best 192 kills.
REGION #11: #11 Cedaredge, #14 Bayfield, #26 Buena Vista
This is another bracket where all teams should feel they have a chance to grab the title and move on to the state tournament. Since they’re playing at home, Cedaredge (19-4) is favored but the Bruins are just 4-4 over their last eight matches following a brilliant 15-0 start where they dropped just two sets overall. They closed the season with a 1-3 showing at the Coal Ridge tournament. Kammie Henderson (215 kills) and Makayla Kehmeier (171) are an effective one-two hitting combination. Baylee Harris, with 336 assists, gets them the volleyball at the net.
Bayfield finished second to Alamosa in the Intermountain but split two matches with the Moose; the win in game two ending Alamosa’s 19-match conference winning streak. They’ve faced good competition from larger schools the entire season and have a very good win over 4A Montrose on their resume. Mavis Edwards (227 kills) and Annie Fusco (173) lead the way up front.
Buena Vista tied with La Junta for fourth in the Tri Peaks but won the head-to-head matchup with the Tigers. They finished the regular season at home in their own tournament where they won three of four matches. The loss came against Centauri. Their schedule is a good one as the Demons are likely better than the #26 seed.
REGION #12: #12 DSST-Montview, #13 La Junta, #25 Resurrection Christian
Formerly known as Denver Science, DSST-Montview is the third team hosting a regional for the first time in school history. But getting to the state tournament won’t be easy as La Junta and Resurrection Christian both bring in quality clubs.
The Knights have not played a strong schedule but they did win two of three against Bennett. Another quality came against 2A Simla which is seeded 6th in that bracket. Maral Battumur has 190 kills and three others finished with at least 118.
La Junta (16-6) played many 1A and 2A schools so their schedule strength is also lacking a bit. They balanced out with tough league competition against the likes of CS Christian, Lamar, St Mary’s and Buena Vista inside the Tri Peaks. Hayden Mayo (166 kills) and Bianca Good (165) are very solid up front and Haley Eckhart is a good setter. She ended up with 577 assists.
It doesn’t show in the RPI, but Resurrection Christian probably has faced the most difficult schedule of the three as much of their slate is against the Patriot and Metro conferences. They are 13-10 overall with the only surprising loss coming at the hands of Liberty Common last month. The Cougars finished the season with three straight wins at the Manitou Springs tournament. Jeorgia Jones is the top offensive threat (139 kills).