History over the past several years tells us that the top teams in Class 3A volleyball often collide in non-conference meetings ahead of brutal league schedules.  And that trend continues this week as three top 10 meetings headline the schedule.  7th ranked Resurrection Christian is involved in two of them as they face #2 Lutheran on Tuesday and then #6 Valley on Thursday.  #5 Platte Valley and #9 Middle Park also collide on Tuesday.
The Cougars are 1-1 on the season with a sweep of defending 2A state champion Lyons and a four-set loss to #4 Faith Christian on their resume thus far.  In addition to the two meetings already mentioned, the Cougars are also in action at the Machebeuf Tournament where they could play four to five matches as well.
Bryce Lienemann has emerged as the leader for Resurrection Christian.  Under the direction of first year coach Ashley Ahlman, Lienemann has produced 46 assists in two matches with only five hitting errors.  Classmate and fellow senior Kaitlyn Newbanks has been on the receiving end of 19 of those kills and leads the Cougars in that category.  She produced a season best 12 kills in the loss to Valley.
Lutheran swept Valley 3-0 in their only match to date so the outcome with the Lions will serve as a good marker on how well Resurrection Christian pairs up with the Vikings later in the week.  In that win, Lutheran doubled up the number of kills to Valley (38-19) including 15 from Payton Brgoch.  Abby Akers added seven and Kennedy Johnson six.  Johnson also saw enough time at setter to lead the team with 15 assists in the win.  Bella Vezzani recorded 14 diggs.
Valley standout Delaney Eckhardt was limited to just three kills against Lutheran but managed 13 assists so she may be settling into a different role as a senior.  She was the team’s leading hitter a year ago.  Kenzie Ray led the offense with nine kills.
Before meeting Resurrection Christian, Valley must also tangle with a Weld Central squad that is 3-0 out of the gate.  The Rebels again compete in the Colorado 7 conference this year but will drop into the 3A division for the post-season and their early start should help them with RPI since all three wins are against 4A opponents Fort Morgan, Wheat Ridge and Elizabeth.
Danielle Specht is the Rebels top hitter (25 kills) and server (10 aces).  Emilie Warehime (21) and Alawna Prokop (20) have combined for 41 kills and Jenna White has 77 of the team’s 84 assists thus far.
Tuesday’s match with Valley is the first of two this week against the highly regarded Patriot conference.  They also battle Platte Valley on Thursday.  And as mentioned, the Broncos also tangle with Middle Park on Tuesday so they’re also one of several teams with tough schedules on the agenda here in week three.
Platte Valley and Middle Park enter Tuesday’s contest with just one match to date and both were wins.  The Panthers outlasted Coal Ridge in five sets in a regional tournament rematch that solidified their title as the top team from the Western Slope.  Platte Valley meantime rolled past 2A Highland in three sets.
Nine players registered a kill for Middle Park in their win.  The group was led by veterans Sammy Phillips (10) and Erica Weimer (8).  Morgan Shawn doled out three aces and Jordan Emery finished with 25 assists.
After facing Platte Valley, Middle Park returns to the metro area for the weekend to compete in the Thomas Jefferson tournament.
Platte Valley will also be involved in tournament play on the weekend as they venture to Lewis Palmer on Saturday.  The Broncos picked up nine kills apiece from Faith Fetzer and Annika Zenk in the win over Highland.  Claire Smith had eight.  Kassi Shoemaker was one of three players to reach double figures in diggs and she closed with 18.  Brianna Ley had 18.  Maddie Uyemura was again solid in the backline with 33 assists.
Maybe the most surprising team to date in Class 3A is Alamosa.  The Mean Moose went 4-0 to win the Glenwood Springs Tournament over the weekend and ran their overall record to 7-0.  They opened the season with wins over Centauri and Del Norte but didn’t break into the top 10 until their strong showing in Glenwood where they beat 2A power Denver Christian in the finals.
Sylvie Caton had 37 kills in the tournament and leads the Moose with 77 overall.  Emily DePriest is second on the team with 46 kills and has 21 blocks.  She had 22 kills in tournament wins over Steamboat Springs and Northridge.  Terese Chavez has produced 44 kills and 53 diggs while Jordan Mobbley leads the club with 232 assists.  She produced 115 at Glenwood Springs and that’s a big number since all four matches there were best of three.
Coming up this week, the Moose make the short drive north to face Sangre De Cristo.  The T-Birds compete on the 1A level but they won’t be a pushover.  Still a young team overall, they have a tremendous leader in senior Jessica Slane who tops their hitting charts with 53 kills.  Jordyn Cantu has 53 diggs and Victoria Ford (64 assists) and Renae Sinclair (58) have shared setting duties thus far.
Sangre is 4-1 overall including a win over 2A preseason #7 Dolores.
Top ranked Eaton (2-0) won’t return to the court until this weekend when they are favored to land the Eaglecrest tournament title.  The field is again loaded with quality clubs including Fossil Ridge, Denver East, Pine Creek, Mountain Vista, Cheyenne Mountain and the host Raptors.  The Reds return to the 3A division next week against Faith Christian (Sept 11th).
#3 University moved to 4-0 with a sweep of 5A Windsor last week.  Abby Schafer had 13 kills; Logan Conlin nine and Madalyn Malm eight.  Their lone match this week is against Fort Morgan on Thursday.  Next week is busier and more difficult with matches against both Holy Family and Lutheran.
#4 Faith Christian (1-0) next competes at the Jefferson Academy tournament.  The Eagles’ only activity of the season was a win over Faith Christian behind nine kills from Makenna Hachen and seven from both Ryanne Ferro and Cate Havekost.  Allure Padilla provided 31 assists.
Colorado Springs Christian (10th) is in the rankings for the first time this season.  They split two matches last week falling to University before beating Palmer.  They get a good test at Prospect Ridge on Tuesday and then open league play at home against Trinidad on Thursday.  The Lions are again expected to challenge for the Tri Peaks championship.
Manitou Springs is another club that could push their way to the top of the Tri Peaks ladder.  The Mustangs picked up an important conference win over Lamar last week (3-0).  Giulia Vidossi paced the Lions with 10 kills and McKayla Cully had six.  Abbie Boren had 22 assists.
The Mustangs get in a match with local rival Classical Academy on Tuesday.  The Titans (2-1) have wins over Palmer and Falcon sandwiched around a tough loss to Palmer Ridge.  Senior Greysen Kraft, with 24 kills, has the slight edge in hitting over sophomores Hope Storm and Kaelen Boyles (both 23).