Welcome to the Class 4A regional volleyball rounds, a key part of what has come to be known as the Lewis-Palmer Invitational.
You probably know about the Rangers. State 4A champions in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Three undefeated seasons included. Nearly six consecutive seasons in which they didn’t drop a match at home. And a string of eight seasons in which they didn’t get swept at home in a best-of-five situation.
Indeed, Lewis-Palmer enters Saturday’s rounds with a record of 15-8, or with as many losses as they had combined over the previous six seasons, but reputation still counts for something. The Rangers are seeded third and will host No. 22 Ponderosa and No. 34 Fort Morgan.
Senior Danielle Norman heads Lewis-Palmer with 287 kills.
There will be 12 sites with three teams each. Two victories will be required to advance to the Denver Coliseum for the Colorado finals.
In front of the Rangers, Pueblo County and Montrose have grabbed the top seeds.
At No. 1, Pueblo County, tied with Skyview at 22-1 for the best record in the field, will host No. 24 Thompson Valley and No. 36 Denver North. The Hornets and Samantha Meehan (340) will be difficult to keep from Denver.
From the hills, Montrose (19-4), champion of the 5A-4A Southwestern League, checks in at No. 2. The Indians and hitter Madison Satterly will go against No. 23 Eagle Valley and No. 35 Longmont.
Right behind the Rangers at No. 4 is a very game Mead (20-3), which grabbed second place in the Tri-Valley League behind 5A Windsor. The Mavericks and sophomore hitter Quincey Coyle will try to advance through No. 21 Air Academy and No. 33 Canon City.
No. 5 Glenwood Springs (19-4, with two of the hits coming to Mead and Alamosa)) cruised through the 4A Western Slope at 11-1. The Demons are led by junior Kaitlyn Johnson and senior Shanik Zambrano, who have combined for nearly 400 kills. Jefferson County’s D’Evelyn, No. 20, and Denver’s George Washington, No. 32, will provide the competition.
Respect? Coronado certainly got a bunch by landing the No. 6 seed, probably with a 4-2 mark in the 5A Colorado Springs Metro as opposed to its 15-8 overall record. Junior outside hitter Maycie Rogers has been consistent. The foes are No. 19 Holy Family, which is capable of an upset, and The Classical Academy, No. 31.
Pueblo West’s two losses in the 4A South Central were to, of course, Pueblo County by a combined 6-1. The Cyclones were 8-2 in the loop and a solid 17-6 overall. Late-season matches to 5A’s Castle View, Eaglecrest and Arapahoe certainly didn’t hurt. Senior Reagan Emery will lead the No. 7 Cyclones against a capable and No. 18 Silver Creek and No. 30 Standley Lake.
And here’s where the bracket can start to turn interesting … the Tri-Valley’s Erie (16-7) is at No. 8. While the Tigers have five players into triple-digit kills, topped by senior Kate Sebesta’s 208, they must handle No. 17 Palisade and No. 29 Abraham Lincoln.
Ditto for No. 9 Discovery Canyon (16-7). The Thunder, with Kaitlyn Kramer and Leah Lester, will go against No. 16 Battle Mountain and an injury-riddled Mullen, No. 28, which played a demanding 5A schedule in the Centennial League.
At No. 10, Discovery Canyon (10) and junior Riley Anderson (212) will have to be sharp – two from Jeffco, No. 15 Evergreen and No. 27 Golden, await their turns.
Woodland Park is 21-2 and only the 11th seed despite sweeping the Colorado Springs Metro. The Panthers had won 16 consecutive matches before falling to University last weekend. They will take on No. Thomas Jefferson, one of 4A Denver Prep teams in the field, and No. 26 Green Mountain.
And No. 12 Skyview, with a sharp 22-1 mark, will be tested by No. 13 Cheyenne Mountain and No. 25 Durango, which is facing, as usual, a long trip.