Champions won’t be officially crowned in 3A volleyball this week because are too many regular season games left on the schedule but in at least three cases, winners take complete control of their conference race. Those matches take place in the Metro, Western Slope and Frontier conference and there are also three important contests inside the rugged Patriot.
Our report starts in the Western Slope where it’s possible Coal Ridge and Cedaredge will still both be unbeaten when they face off on Saturday. Each team is 6-0 in the West Slope to begin the week and both are in action on Tuesday as the Titans host Grand Valley and the Bruins go to Roaring Fork. Coal Ridge has the more difficult and more important match as Grand Valley will go into their contest just one game off the pace and tied for third with Aspen (both 4-1).
But if both leaders are winners on Tuesday, then their Saturday meeting should determine the championship. The Bruins start the week 5th in RPI and in great position to host a regional. Coal Ridge is the defending league champion but is only 18th in RPI this week. Wins over Cedaredge and Grand Valley though could start their climb into the top 12.
Each team features a nice one-two punch at the net. Kara Morgan (128 kills) and Taylor Wiescamp (97) lead Coal Ridge while the Bruins are paced by the tandem of Courtney Freeman (120) and Kammie Henderson (84).
Kenzie Crawford directs the Coal Ridge attack and leads the team with 289 assists and 36 aces. Baylee Harris feeds the Cedaredge hitters and enters the week with 276 assists. Freeman tops the Bruins defense. She has 125 diggs; Henderson has 107 and Makayla Kehmeier 102. Morgan leads Coal Ridge with 140 diggs. Taylor Roberts adds 77 and Phoebe Young 76.
Serving is also a strong point for both clubs. Coal Ridge has 119 as a team and Crawford tops the list with 36. Kehmeier paces Cedaredge with 26 and Freeman has 21.
Bennett will once again try to end the Frontier dominance of Middle Park. They play in Granby on Thursday. The Panthers are 53-0 in league play since the start of the 2014 season and have just two conference losses since the start of 2009. Both setbacks came during the 2013 season. The Tigers have a league loss to DSST-Stapleton and will be underdogs on the road but they are in better shape concerning RPI standings. They’re 8th and Middle Park is 13th.
The Tigers are paced by the duo of Chloe Church (132 kills) and Reese Barber (104) at the net. Both are underclassmen and both played in back-up roles last season but have improved throughout the season. Middle Park is led by state tournament experienced Sammy Phillips with 90 kills.
Most fans thought the late season match between Lutheran and Faith Christian would determine first and second in the Metro. But with Faith falling to Prospect Ridge in four sets last week, the scenario has changed quite a bit. Now the Eagles must upset the unbeaten Lions or be satisfied with a likely third place league finish. Prospect Ridge has already played and lost to Lutheran but the Miners get second by winning out if the Lions topple Faith Christian on Tuesday.
The Lions and Eagles have played already this season with Lutheran taking a 2-0 win in the finals of the Jefferson Academy tournament. Lutheran had 33 kills compared to just 17 for the Eagles. Payton Brgoch led the winners with 13 kills and Abby Akers added eight. Faith Christian picked up eight from Ryanne Ferro.
Lutheran is solid as a regional host and is in position to win the top overall seed. That’s where they sit going into the final three weeks of the regular season. Faith Christian is 14th in RPI. Prospect Ridge, despite last week’s big win over the Eagles, is only 24th.
Against Faith Christian, Gabi Maiocco led the way with 16 kills. Destiny Castro had 11 and Lauryn Parker 10. The Miners are at Kent Denver on Tuesday and then finish with Machebeuf, Colorado Academy and Peak to Peak. They have still work to do but they control their future in regards to a top two finish. If Faith Christian beats Lutheran, then the Miners could also grab a share of the championship at seasons end.
Alamosa is the one team that can officially clinch a league championship as they lead Centauri by three games in the Intermountain chase. They host the Falcons on Tuesday and a win there gives them the outright championship. They’ve already earned at least a share of the title. The Moose are also 20-0 on the season and needing three more wins to finish a perfect 23-0. Centauri ran the table last year but did not reach the state tournament after dropping two matches at the regional tournament. The Moose are not hoping for a repeat of that finish this year.
Colorado Springs Christian has a one game edge on Manitou Springs in the Tri Peaks. The Lions won the head-to-head match earlier this season so they control the chase. Manitou leads Lamar by one game and Salida by two and have wins over both so the Mustangs are in good shape for second place. Lamar hosts Salida on Saturday in the most important match involving the top four clubs.
RPI wise, CSCS and Manitou are 6-7 this week and should be at home in the regional round. Lamar is 12th and still playing to join them in the top 12. Salida is 25th.
Eagle Ridge Academy is 11th in the RPI but they may not win the Confluence championship. The Warriors were upset by DSST-Green Valley 3-2 last week and sit second in the standings. It’s the only meeting between the two so the Raptors have the inside track to the crown. Green Valley is 17th in RPI.
We conclude with the Patriot because the best league in Class 3A still has many important matches to play. League leaders started to square off last week and more matches between them are on the schedule this week so each night, the standings will sort out a bit more.
It’s no surprise that Eaton has the most impressive win to date as the Reds swept University 3-0 last week. Despite that decision, the Reds remain behind the Bulldogs in the most CHSAA rankings and the RPI. But as we mentioned at the start of the season, until someone in Class 3A topples the Reds they must be considered the favorite to land another state championship.
Makenzie Harris finished the match with 22 kills and Sydney Leffler had eight. Overall, the Reds won the battle at the net with 42 kills compared to just 29 for University. Abby Schafer (7), Madelyn Malm (6) and Logan Conlin (6) led the Bulldogs in kills. Another key factor was the service line as Eaton recorded 14 aces to just four for the Bulldogs. Michaela Hill led the way with four and Megan St. Jean added three.
The win was the 70 straight in league play for the Reds. It kept them tied with Sterling and Platte Valley atop the standings entering this week. Eaton’s last league loss came against Valley in 2012 and they face the Vikings in their next league match on Tuesday. It’s their only match of the week and a win keeps them at least tied for the lead.
The two other leaders face University this week as Platte Valley hosts the Bulldogs on Tuesday and Sterling is home on Thursday. If University wins those two matches, they could easily end up no worse than second in the final standings.
Platte Valley is unbeaten against 3A clubs with lone losses to 4A Pueblo West and 5A Windsor. They also face Valley on Thursday and Eaton next Tuesday so the Broncos will know their league championship fate over the next week.
With 108 kills, Annika Zenk is the top hitter. Claire Smith is next with 102 and Faith Fetzer has 98. Maddie Uyemura has handed out 376 assists against just 19 errors.
Sterling’s unbeaten league start is probably unexpected because the Tigers are easily the youngest team in the league. Freshmen Sydney Henry (133 kills) and Kaylee Johnson (91) are the top two hitters while “veteran sophomore” Valarie Allen (85) is third on the list.
The league is again very strong in the RPI as University (2nd) and Platte Valley (4th) should be considered locks to host regional tournaments. Eaton is 10th and considered on the bubble. All three teams should not lose much ground because their strength of schedule will only increase with head-to-head league meetings. Valley is 16th in RPI with Sterling 23rd. Resurrection Christian is in the middle of the pack league standings wise but is 21st in RPI. Liberty Common (34th) and Brush (40th) could also earn post-season bids.