4A VOLLEYBALL REGIONAL PREVIEW

Class 4A regional tournaments are on tap this week as 36 teams are spread throughout 12 brackets.  Winners of each event advance to the state tournament next week in Denver.  We look at all 36-teams in our post-season preview.
 

REGION #1 — LEWIS PALMER HIGH SCHOOL

Entering the post-season, Lewis Palmer (23-0) is heavily favored to land a third consecutive state championship.  The Rangers have won 52 straight matches and have not lost since the 2015 title match to Cheyenne Mountain.  They’ve won 58 of 59 matches overall.  The Rangers have also plenty of momentum as they beat two defending state champions in the past week getting by both Fossil Ridge (5A) and Eaton (3A) on their way to claiming the Cheyenne Mountain tournament crown.
Five players have recorded at least 122 kills this season; a group led by Taylor Buckley with 170 and Jadie DeLange with 145.  Organizing the strong contingent of hitters is top setter McKenna Sciacca.  The junior had 642 assists during the regular season.  Another key player is Gianna Bartalo.  The sophomore led the squad with 47 aces and 288 diggs.
Challenging Lewis Palmer are Berthoud (14-9) and Battle Mountain (9-14).  The Spartans have been very good down the stretch; winning eight of nine including four straight last week to capture the Golden tournament championship.  Julie Ward, with 309 kills, is among the best hitters in Colorado.  She gets fed from a trio of sophomore setters, Sophia Katol (280 assists), Trinity Penny (185) and Casady Berry (158).
Battle Mountain is going the other direction as the Huskies dropped seven of their final eight matches.  They lost to Steamboat Springs, Palisade and Steamboat Springs in late conference action then lost all four matches at the Coal Ridge tournament over the weekend.  Lillian Benway is their top hitter with 211 kills and Avery Weaver has 167.  Lily DeMuth tops the team with 530 assists.
 

REGION #2 — VALOR CHRISTIAN HIGH SCHOOL

Valor Christian (18-5) won both the Jeffco regular season and league tournament titles going through the schedule without a loss.  Their only 4A loss this season is against Lewis Palmer and that’s a large reason the Eagles are the number two seed in the bracket.  The other four losses are against quality clubs Eaton, Fossil Ridge, Cherry Creek and Fruita Monument.
Lily Thomason (193 kills), Courtney Lane (185) and Anna Davis (153) provide for a balanced attack at the net.  Davis is also fifth in the state with 59 aces.  Maddie Allen (389 assists) and Caroline Reinksmeyer (259) both see time in the setter’s role.
Mountain View (15-8) tied with Thompson Valley for third place in the Northern but was four games back of league champion Niwot.  The Mountain Lions opened the season 6-0 but went 9-8 over their last 17 matches.  Cayl Boman (208 kills) is their first option up front but Megan Hurr (118) also gets in swings.  Savannah Murry (273 assists) and Janae Onda (212) split time feeding the duo.
George Washington (14-9) snapped a six-game skid by beating Elizabeth at the Rangeview Tournament last Saturday.  The Patriots finished second in the 5A portion of the City league chase and third overall.  Kaitlyn Walden (102 kills) is the top hitter and Alma Younger (223 assists) the top setter.
 

REGION #3 — HOLY FAMILY HIGH SCHOOL

No team outside Lewis Palmer has a longer winning streak than Holy Family as the Tigers enter the bracket winners of 17 in a row.  Their last loss came on September 2nd against 5A power Castle View with a second loss earlier in the same tournament against another larger school in Rock Canyon.  The Tigers also rolled through the Tri Valley conference with a perfect 14-0 mark to claim the title by two games over Windsor.
Ali Travis led the Tigers to the state finals a year ago and has put together another strong season.  She leads the Tigers with 333 kills which is fourth most in Class 4A.  Rachel Siurek (196) is a very good second option.  Sara Berghoff dished out 664 assists which placed her in the top five of the classification.  Peyton Frank, with a team best 50 aces, is another weapon.
Air Academy (12-11) shared third place in the Pikes Peak with Cheyenne Mountain and Discovery Canyon.  The Kadets have good tradition but they’re very young this season.  Sophomore Lyla Hollis leads the team with 124 kills and classmate Charleston Tidwell is next with 112 kills.  A third sophomore, Hayley Payne, leads the club with 320 assists.
The Kadets have won five of seven including a strong 3-1 showing at last week’s Palmer Ridge Tournament.  Their lone loss came against Mullen.
Despite ending the regular season five games below five hundred, Elizabeth (9-14) is the Colorado Springs Metro champion.  That’s because seven of their wins came in conference play.  Kyla Green leads the Cardinals with 216 kills while setters Callista Moore (238) and Ashlynn Heuring (237) combined for 575 assists.
 

REGION #4 — NIWOT HIGH SCHOOL

Niwot (18-5) features one of the top players in Colorado as Stanford bound Mackenzie Fidelak combined for 222 kills and 317 assists.  She tops the Cougars in kills and is second in assists behind Katie Hirsh (395).
The Cougars are battle tested as in the final two weeks of the season, they played a thrilling five-set match in a loss to Holy Family and then went 2-2 at the Ponderosa tournament.  There they beat the host Mustangs and Durango but lost to Douglas County and Chatfield.  In addition to Holy Family, other 4A losses are against Longmont and Lewis Palmer who are also hosting regionals.
Eagle Valley (15-7) went 10-2 and shared the Western Slope championship with Glenwood Springs.  They ended the season with a three-set loss to Evergreen at the Cougars tournament.  Emma Lassa (207 kills) and Becy Glutova (185) are the top hitters for the Devils.
Canon City (13-10) grabbed six of their wins in the Colorado Springs Metro league to place third behind Elizabeth and Classical Academy.  The Tigers enter regionals dropping four of their last six matches.  Bailey Boccaccio has a team high 138 kills and is the first option at the net.  Alessandro Giammo (221) and Ally Meins (216) are separated by just five assists.
 

REGION #5 — PALMER RIGE HIGH SCHOOL

The Bears (21-2) are hosting a regional tournament for the first time in school history and have a very good shot at their first ever state tournament appearance.  Their only losses this year are against neighboring Lewis Palmer and 5A host Coronado.  Since the loss to Lewis Palmer in Pikes Peak league action, the Bears have won ten in a row including four straight on Saturday to capture their own tournament championship.
Mac Russ (228 kills), Riley Simpson (194) and Summer Reflogal (173) all had good seasons hitting but the key to Palmer Ridge has been the play of Grace McIntosh.  The freshman finished the regular season fourth in Class 4A with 704 assists.
Erie (15-8) and Widefield (16-7) both had very good seasons to finish in the upper division of the Tri Valley and CS Metro league respectively.  But each will have to play at an even higher level to unseat Palmer Ridge.  The Tigers’ longest winning streak of the season was five and that’s the number they need to reach the state final.  They’ll look to the duo of Mya Michaelson (292 kills) and Sydney Crites (215) for offense.  Jessica Amend (473 assists) and Megan Casillas (354) both played heavy minutes this season.
Widefield has won seven of their last eight and went 11-4 in non-conference matches this season.  Aspen Melanson led the Gladiators with 341 assists with many of them pointed to Taylor Blackwell; the team leader in kills with 165.
 

REGION #6 — D’EVELYN HIGH SCHOOL

This has a chance to be a very competitive bracket as D’Evelyn, Fort Morgan and Classical Academy all finished second in their conference this year.  The Jags (19-4) trailed Valor Christian in the Jeffco, the Mustangs (18-5) were second to Weld Central in the Colorado 7 and the Titans (13-9) lost the tiebreaker to Elizabeth in the Colorado Springs Metro.
D’Evelyn won their first 12 matches of the season but has gone 7-4 over their last 11.  Two of those losses are against Valor Christian in league play and they’re the only two setbacks against 4A opponents this year.  Others were against Denver East and Mountain Vista at the Dakota Ridge Tournament last week.
Peyton Wright (193 kills) and Sophia Hoffman (184) are a quality one-two punch up front.  Natalie Haggard, with 572 assists, is a quality setter and Juli Helm led Class 4A with 66 aces.
Fort Morgan gets a good share of their offense from Haley Lewis with a team best 242 kills.  She also dropped in 52 aces from the service line.  Genavieve Pelton was even better from there with 57 aces to finish sixth in the classification.  Halle Shaver tops the Mustangs with 571 assists.
Classical Academy has gotten solid play from freshman Hope Storm.  She led the Titans with 277 assists and 53 aces.  Reagan Bervig was on the receiving end of many assists as she enters regional tournament play with 159 kills.
 

REGION #7 — WINDSOR HIGH SCHOOL

Windsor (15-8) won 15 matches overall but only three outside the Tri Valley conference where they ended up second to Holy Family.  But the Wizards spent much of the non-conference schedule playing top teams as every loss came against a team that will host a regional tournament in either 4A or 5A this week.  The Wizards are coming off a strong 2-2 showing at the Cheyenne Mountain tournament where they beat Longmont and Lakewood and fell to Fossil Ridge and Chaparral.
There’s good balance on offense as Rylee Grieman (205 kills) and Ally Kennis (185) had good seasons at the net.  Ellie Garrett topped the team with 544 assists.
Every 4A loss by Discovery Canyon (13-10) came against a team that made the post-season so like Windsor, their record could be considered misleading.  The Thunder tied for third with Air Academy and Cheyenne Mountain in the Pikes Peak.  Ashten Prechtel paced the hitting charts with 203 kills and Leah Lester was next with 157.  They also combined for 101 aces.  Another key component is setter Hannah Prehtel.  She finished with team highs in assists (712) and aces (54).
Greeley Central (11-12) nearly got back to five hundred by sweeping all four matches in tournament play last weekend.  Their best win came against Widefield who is also in the regional tournament field.  Aubree Raimer (302 kills) and Naomi HIldalgo (295) are a good duo at the net as are Alyssa Joseph (314 assists) and Sandra Benavides (237) in the backcourt.
 

REGION #8 — LONGMONT HIGH SCHOOL

After an off year in 2016, tradition-rich Longmont returned in a big way recording 19 wins against just four losses to finish second behind Niwot in the Northern league.  The Trojans closed the regular season by splitting four matches at the Cheyenne Mountain last weekend.  They beat Mesa Ridge and Grandview but came up short to Fossil Ridge and Windsor.
The Trojans feature plenty of talent as Rachel Kusbel led Class 4A in hitting with 370 kills and Annika Wetterstrom also topped the division with 754 assists.  Kusbel also provided 51 aces.
Roosevelt’s Jordan Jennings was second in Class 4A concerning assists as she finished with 713.  A good share of them went to either Dorie Moore (214 kills) or Logan DeRock (175).  Carlie Schmitz chipped in 50 aces.  The Riders (15-8) ended up tied for third in the Tri Valley and split their last six matches of the season.  Over the entire year, they collected quality wins over Berthoud, Classical Academy, Weld Central and Fort Morgan.
Vista Peak (14-9) comes in to 4A after finishing fourth in the Class 5A East Metro conference.  Angelina Rivera led the Bison with 107 kills and Jaela Stephens was next with 91.  Sophomore Lindsay Fernandez paced the team with 228 assists and freshman Jena Crawford added 150.
 

REGION #9 — EVERGREEN HIGH SCHOOL

Evergreen (15-7) has the best record of the three teams in the bracket as Thompson Valley (12-11) and Mullen (12-11) each won a dozen games.  The overall total of 39 combined wins ties the Windsor region for fewest wins of any bracket in Class 4A.
Records though are misleading as Evergreen’s seven setbacks are all against teams hosting regional tournaments this week.  They suffered two losses apiece to Valor Christian and D’Evelyn while finishing third in the Jeffco and then fell short to Longmont, Chatfield and Palmer Ridge in non-league play.
Claudia Dillon (302 kills) is the top hitter and Katie Hays (428) leads the team in assists.  Dillon also fired off 52 aces during the 23-match regular season.
Thompson Valley tied Mountain View for third in the Northern but won just three non-conference games the entire year.  The Eagles could be a bit rusty as they’ll be on the court for the first time since October 19th.  They finished conference play that night and were one of the few teams not taking part in a regular season ending tournament over the weekend.  Kaelyn Giefer (206 kills) and Gwen Sheldon (562 assists) are two players to watch.
Mullen is a member of the 5A Centennial league so they battle big school programs much of the season.  They split six matches against 4A opponents; beating Montrose, Air Academy and Centaurus.  Losses came against Palmer Ridge, Valor Christian and Thomas Jefferson.
Kendall Malone tops the Mustangs with 202 kills and Shannon Stone led the assist chart with 456.
 

REGION #10 — PUEBLO WEST HIGH SCHOOL

Winners of 76 straight in conference play, Pueblo West (19-4) heads to the post-season without their full lineup.  Senior MaLeigha Menegatti has not played since suffering a season-ending injury on October 17th.  She had 125 kills at the time of her injury and the club is just 3-3 without her.  The Cyclones have beaten Doherty, Elizabeth and Thomas Jefferson without her but also lost to Liberty, Fairview and Arapahoe.
The cupboard though is not bare as the Cyclones still send out hitters Emily Hanenberg (168 kills), Olivia Sherman (156) and Reagan Emery (152).  Brilane Manchego, with 617 assists, directs the offense.
Palisade (16-7) lost to Montrose (10-13) in the first match of the season but the teams have changed quite a bit since then.  Going into their regional pairing this week, the Bulldogs may be favored based on producing six more wins during the regular season.  Both teams ended up third in their respective conference.
The Bulldogs get offense from Alexandra MacAskill (289 kills) and Reannon Baskin (176).  Reese Norton leads the team with 611 assists and Naline Stephens was second in Class 4A with 64 aces.
After beating Palisade, Montrose added two more wins for a 3-0 start but the Indians have not won back-to-back matches since.  Katie Sherwood can score at the net (184 kills) and at the service line (53 aces).  Madison Schneider is the top setter with 463 assists.
 

REGION #11 — THOMAS JEFFERSON HIGH SCHOOL

An argument can be made for any of the three teams to advance to the state tournament from this bracket.  Thomas Jefferson (16-6) finished second to Denver East in the City League, Glenwood Springs (19-4) tied Eagle Valley for the Western Slope championship and despite just eight wins, Cheyenne Mountain (8-15) has enough post-season experience to pull two upsets and get back to another state event.
Thomas Jefferson has two just losses to 4A opponents; falling to Valor Christian and Pueblo West.  Their loss to Pueblo West came at last weeks’ Rangeview Tournament where they finished 2-2.  The Spartans also dropped a match to Fairview but toppled both Elizabeth and Eaglecrest.  Bella Williams is the top hitter (172 kills) and Gracey Jarecke (521 assists) had a very good season as the top setter.  She also finished third in Class 4A with 62 aces.
Glenwood Springs split four matches at the Coal Ridge tournament to close their regular season.  Losses were against 3A powers Coal Ridge and Valley and wins came over Delta and Pagosa Springs.  Tye Wedhom placed second in Class 4A with 343 kills.
Nine losses for Cheyenne Mountain were against 5A opponents.  And others came against top level opponents Eaton, Lewis Palmer, Palmer Ridge, Valor Christian, Discovery Canyon and Holy Family.  That tough schedule hurt them in seeding for regionals but could prove an advantage in post-season play.  Kinley Coe (211 kills) and Kaelin Coe (575 assists) are sisters who transferred from 1A La Veta over the summer and ended up leading the team in both categories.  Kaelin was also fourth in 4A with 61 aces.
 

REGION #12 — DURANGO HIGH SCHOOL

This is another good bracket where all three teams have enough firepower to get two wins and advance to the Denver Coliseum next week.  The Demons (16-7) though are still favored as they’re playing at home with the other two clubs traveling hundreds of miles to get there.
The lone 4A loss for Durango came against Niwot.  Five other losses came against 5A programs including two to Fruita Monument in Southwestern conference play.  The seventh loss was suffered to 3A Bayfield in a thrilling five-setter.
Ally Snow (202 kills), Brett Rowland (195) and Lana Razma (172) can each dominate a match at the net.  Brianna Brown (604 assists) directs the ball to the trio and Millie O’Ketter provides easy points with 52 aces.
Pueblo County placed second to Pueblo West in the South-Central.  The Hornets are 19-4 overall but have probably played the least competitive schedule of the three.  Kinley Gomez (186 kills) and Sammy Meehan (172) are the top two hitters with Emilee Davis leading the team in assists with 284.
Ponderosa, like Mullen, is a difficult team to seed as the Mustangs play in the rugged 5A Continental conference.  They went 4-6 against top-flight competition there and played just three matches against 4A teams all season.  They lost to Niwot and Cheyenne Mountain but beat Berthoud.  Abigail Hildenbrand is one of the best setters in Colorado regardless of class and ended the regular season with 607 assists.
 
 

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