Some other clubs have already played seven matches but three teams who are regular visitors to the state tournament finally opened their schedules on Tuesday. And all three posted three game sweeps of conference rivals. #5 University beat Liberty Common, #7 Colorado Springs Christian rolled Trinidad and #9 Bayfield survived Alamosa.
Of the trio, Bayfield had the more difficult test as the first two sets in Alamosa went to extra points but in the end the Wolverines collected the first win for new coach Danica Frost. The Wolverine schedule picks up quick speed as they will make a trip to the Lewis Palmer Tournament this weekend and then face a very important IML match with Pagosa Springs a week from Saturday. The Pirates were in the pre-season top 10 but dropped out due to a couple of losses at the Glenwood Springs Tournament over the weekend.
Colorado Springs Christian banged out 12 aces in their win. At the net, returnees Christa Vogt (9) and Christine Ajayi (8) combined for 17 kills and Megan Engesser also chipped in eight. Senior Jillian Francis did well in her first varsity start dishing out 31 assists.
Overall the early schedule favors CSCS as they meet Lamar on Thursday and then tangle with James Irwin, Rye and Atlas Prep to finish out their first five league matches. Lamar is probably the best of the upcoming opponents as the Savages sit 4-0 after blasting Atlas Prep last week. Sophomore Cali Clark nailed 13 kills in just 25 attempts. The Savages also finished with 17 aces including five apiece from Aliceson Fierro and Jozlyn Stutphin.
Four teams that hope to battle for second and third behind CSCS in the Tri-Peaks square off on Thursday as Manitou Springs goes to Buena Vista and Florence entertains St Mary’s. All four teams entered the week without a loss but that changed on Tuesday when the Huskies fell to 4A Pueblo County in three.
Despite that loss, Florence sits at 6-1 with already four more wins than they totaled a year ago. They have three hitters with at least 20 kills; a list led by Sydnee Connors with 30. St Mary’s is 1-0 and will be playing their first match since beating La Junta 3-2 on August 31st.
Buena Vista and Manitou Springs both are 2-0 going into Thursday. The Mustangs picked up a quality win over 2A ranked Colorado Springs School on Tuesday night. That followed up an opening five set win over 4A Pueblo East. McKayla Curry leads the ‘Stangs with 31 kills and Abby Boren has handed out 44 assists.
The Demons have swept both Atlas Prep and Gunnison so their date with Manitou will be their most difficult test of the early season. Brilynd Pence (27 kills) and Kassie Schell (20) pace the Demons at the net while sophomore Lindsey Pratt, with 42 assists, gets them in position.
University allowed just 28 points in rolling past Liberty Common. The Bulldogs though make a quick step up in competition as they meet top ranked Eaton on Thursday. The Reds have already beaten #2 Valley and #3 Faith Christian this year so despite major graduation losses as always, Coach Gwen Forster seems to just plug in new players to keep the wins rolling.
University lost all three matches to Eaton in 2016 including a three-set decision in the state semifinals. Aracely Hernandez and Madelyn Malm combined for 15 kills in the loss and the two return to the University lineup this fall hoping to change the outcome.
Senior Makenzie Harris has adapted very well to becoming the first option in the Eaton offense. She recorded 19 kills in last week’s win over Valley and added 14 more against Faith Christian on Tuesday. Depth up front has come from the likes of Ana Scott and Darcie Kaiser who combined for 14 kills vs Faith. Chelsey Lockey added 23 assists and two more aces.
#2 Valley and Platte Valley also collide on Thursday. The outcome will not only impact the Patriot league standings but also affect where teams head for regional tournaments.
The Vikings bounced back from the Eaton loss to sweep Strasburg; winning each set by at least 11 points. Sophomore Delaney Eckhardt is quickly joining the list of best hitters in Colorado. She went for 20 kills against Eaton and in limited opportunities, picked up 12 more against Strasburg.
Platte Valley has played just one match to date but it resulted in a quality win over #10 Lutheran. A victory over Valley likely gets the Broncos into the rankings next week. Platte Valley and Valley are also scheduled to compete at the Lewis Palmer tournament on Saturday.
Another key match inside the Patriot Tuesday saw #6 Resurrection Christian collect an impressive road win at #4 Sterling. The Cougars set the tone with a 25-13 win in set one and were not challenged in picking up the much-coveted sweep away from home. Morgan Watson pounded 15 kills but the sophomore got plenty of help from Kaitlyn Newbanks (12) and Katelyn Anderson (10). Bryce Lieneman collected a career best 37 assists.
Resurrection Christian looks to build on that momentum when they face Faith Christian on Thursday. As mentioned, the Eagles lost to Eaton this week and likely need a win to remain in the top five next week. Bella Keister led the Eagles with eight kills against Eaton but the team connected on just 19 of 80 hitting attempts. The winner of the non-conference match should get a boost in the post-season bracket as well.
#8 Middle Park balanced their record at 1-1 by handling Estes Park on Tuesday. The Panthers lost in five sets to Faith Christian in week one. Bailey Martin and Kiera Barr finished with eight kills apiece in only 29 attempts against Estes. Up next for the Panthers is a date with West Grand on Thursday. The visiting Mustangs are ranked in the 2A Top 10 but Middle Park collected a three-set win a year ago. The Panthers also host Skyview Academy on Friday.
The entire top 10 schedule for all classes this week can be found by clicking here. We’ll post results there throughout the week. Final scores can be sent to Colorado Preps by text to 970.380.7737, by email to [email protected] or by twitter @coloradopreps.