For the first time since 2013, there’s a new number one team in Class 3A volleyball.  Lutheran wrestled the top spot away from the five-time defending state champions this week after the Reds went 1-3 at the Eaglecrest Tournament; an event they had won the past three years.  Lutheran is unbeaten at 7-0 as they open conference play in the Metro.
Our 3A report this week will serve as a league primer across the division.  League champions earn automatic trips to the regional tournament and in many cases, they also get the chance to play at home in that round.
Since Lutheran is sitting in the top perch this week, lets begin in the Metro.  The Lions are the pre-season favorites and should see their top challenge from #8 Faith Christian.  Lutheran topped the Eagles 2-0 two weeks ago but that outcome does not count in the league standings as it came in the Jefferson Academy tournament.
Neither of the favorites have played a league match but that changes this week.  The Lions are very busy with matches against Machebeuf (Tuesday), Colorado Academy (Thursday) and Jefferson Academy (Saturday).  Machebeuf and Jefferson Academy both sit at 1-0 in league action.  The Buffs moved past Colorado Academy last week and J-A worked through five sets to down Kent Denver.
Lutheran has plenty of momentum as they enter the conference fray thanks to a tremendous five set win over #2 University last week.  The Lions trailed two sets to one but rallied with wins in game four (25-16) and gave five (16-14) to take the victory.  Overall, they recorded 64 kills including 24 from Payton Brgoch and 13 apiece from Kennedy Johnson and Avery Anderson.  The Lions picked up 65 diggs including 18 from Bella Vezzani, 14 from Abby Akers and 11 from Kenzie Graves.  Lexi Wilmoth and Johnson shared setting duties and each finished with 58 assists.
Faith Christian, meantime, carries a three-match losing streak into their Metro schedule.  The streak started with the loss to Lutheran in the J-A tournament finals and continued last week with setbacks to Patriot powers Eaton and Platte Valley.  Despite the tough stretch, the Eagles will be favored in league openers with Colorado Academy (Tuesday) and Kent Denver (Thursday).
Among the top challengers in the Patriot, only Sterling has posted a win as they cruised past Estes Park in three quick sets last week. The Tigers are the epitome of depth displayed year in-year out by the conference.  They’ve finished sixth each of the last two years but still earned state tournament bids by winning regional events on the road.
With Eaton possibly coming back to the pack a bit this year, the race could be very intense and each week should carry highly anticipated matches.  That includes this week and Resurrection Christian is involved in both.  The Cougars tangle with #3 Eaton on Tuesday and #5 Platte Valley on Thursday.  Rez opens the week outside the top 10 after falling to Machebeuf at the Buffs Tournament last Saturday.
Eaton sits at 4-3 overall but they are unbeaten against 3A teams and have not dropped a set while rolling past Lamar, Buena Vista and Faith Christian.  Until another Class 3A club beats them, the Reds still must be considered the favorite to land the league and also state championship.  MacKenzie Harris remains in the chase for Player of the Year honors with 118 kills in just 295 attempts.
Platte Valley enters Patriot play coming off a solid four-set win over Faith Christian.  Faith Fetzer, with 14 kills led the attack but she got plenty of help from Annika Zenk (13), Claire Smith (13) and Brianna Ley (10).  Maddie Uyemura set them up with 55 assists.
University more than survived a brutal week with a fine 2-1 record.  They opened with a five-set win over 4A power Holy Family and ended with a nice 3-1 road win at 2A #1 Yuma.  In between was the frustrating five-set loss to Lutheran where they led the Lions after three sets.   The start of league play could them a well needed breather as they will be favored against both Brush and Liberty Common this week.
Valley evened their mark at 4-4 by beating 4A Roosevelt last week.  They should be 3-0 in the Patriot going into their first test against University on the 27th.  Between now and then, the Vikings face Strasburg, Brush and Liberty Common.
Three teams begin the week sharing the top spot in the Tri Peaks but that number will be reduced by at least one when Colorado Springs Christian goes to La Junta on Thursday.  Both clubs are 3-0 and tied with Manitou Springs in first place.
La Junta kept their share of first place by rallying past Salida last week.  Trailing 2-0, the Tigers regrouped and scored wins in the next three sets to stun the Spartans.  La Junta, who also faces Ellicott on Tuesday, is led up front by Bianca Good.  She has 84 kills and is followed by Hayden Mayo (55) and Raini Tafoya (52).
Colorado Springs Christian’s offense also features three hitters with at least 50 kills on the season.  Their trio is paced by Jubilee Diamond (60) with Abby Miller (56) and Christa Vogt (55) a close second and third.  The Lions have not lost a set in league action and could add to that perfect record against Vanguard on Tuesday.
#7 Manitou Springs has posted key league wins over Lamar and St Mary’s and should remain unbeaten through the week.  They visit Atlas Prep on Tuesday before hosting Florence two days later.
First place in the Western Slope is more crowded as four teams begin play this week without a league loss.  Aspen, Cedaredge and Delta are all 3-0 with defending league champion Coal Ridge at 2-0.
The lone match between first-place teams this week is Tuesday when Cedaredge goes to Delta.  The Bruins have just one loss overall (2A #2 Meeker) and have been getting good backline play from Bailey Harris.  She has a team best 146 assists and has done a good job getting the ball to top hitters Courtney Freeman (56 kills) and Kammie Henderson (43).
Delta is led up front by the trio of Sara Geddes (63), Lauren Davey (61) and freshman Erika Kuta (57).  Abby Carlson tops the team with 154 assists.
Aspen cracked the top 10 this week (#10) and will take a break from the league schedule.  The Skiers will play in a tournament Friday and Saturday.  Coal Ridge has league matches with Basalt and Olathe Thursday and Saturday and gets their shot at Aspen on October 2nd.
Eagle Ridge Academy (#9) joins Aspen as a newcomer to the top 10 as both teams are in the poll for the first time since CHSAA started posting official rankings.  They’re in the poll despite losses to Brush and St Mary’s Academy; two teams that will likely finish in the lower division of their respective division.  Regardless, Eagle Ridge should again roll through the Confluence schedule.  They do have a quality win over Bennett (3-2) and also beat 2A power Simla (3-1).
#4 Alamosa has already taken two major steps to claim the Intermountain championship as they topped both Bayfield and Pagosa Springs on the road last week. Before Centauri broke through and won the crown last year, the Wolverines and Pirates had routinely finished 1-2 and seemed a notch better than the rest of the conference.  Those days are apparently gone as the Moose won both matches 3-0.
Balance at the net continues to carry the unbeaten Moose.  Against Bayfield, Terese Chavez led the team with eight kills but Sylvie Caton, Taylor Motz and Emily DePriest all finished with six.  Caton added 14 kills and Motz nine in the win over Pagosa Springs.  Jordan Mobbley combined for 62 assists.
Next up are league matches with Monte Vista (Tuesday and Montezuma Cortez (Saturday).  They also have two dates with Centauri and rematches with Pagosa Springs and Bayfield left on the schedule.
Middle Park looks to get back to the top of the Frontier league where they’ve been the dominant club for many years.  The Panthers (1-0) are tied with KIPP Collegiate, DSST-Stapleton and Pinnacle for the very early lead.  They go to Academy on Tuesday and DSST-Stapleton on Thursday.