Since we are starting to see conference play across almost the entire 4A division, our report changes a bit as we will focus on league races and not be centered completely on the best five or six matches we selected at the beginning of the week.
Of the most important matches we mentioned back on Sunday, four of them are set for the Tri Valley league so that’s where our report begins this week. Holy Family is ranked 6th and is the defending league champion but #7 Erie, #9 Mead, Windsor, Berthoud, Skyline, Mead and Frederick have also been impressive in non-league play. Those seven clubs are a combined 40-13 on the season which should make for an interesting conference chase.
One thing to remember is that Windsor is eligible to win the league championship but will bump to Class 5A for the post-season.
Berthoud is involved in two of the early season showdowns as the Spartans host Frederick on Tuesday and they challenge defending state runner-up Holy Family on Thursday. Also on the schedule this week are matches between Windsor-Mead on Tuesday and Erie-Frederick two nights later.
As expected, the Northern league chase should be determined by the two regular season matchups between Longmont and Niwot. Both are already 4-0 in league play and each has a one game lead on third place Thompson Valley. Every other conference team has suffered two losses.
Niwot hosts Thompson Valley on Thursday and a Cougars win there probably turns the Northern officially into a two-team race. Thompson Valley is in third but they fell to Longmont in three quick sets on September 4th. Elease Marzolf had 12 kills in the loss and may need more to upset the Cougars.
Longmont entertains in-city rival Silver Creek on Tuesday and goes to Centaurus on Thursday. Their first meeting with Niwot is next Tuesday and the Trojans will host. Niwot also goes to Greeley Central this Tuesday.
Palisade (3-0) has the early lead in the Western Slope. The Bulldogs are up by one game on Battle Mountain (2-1), Steamboat Springs, Eagle Valley and Summit (all 1-1). Palisade took over sole possession of the top spot by beating Battle Mountain in four sets last week. They also rallied for the win. After falling 25-13 in set one, they shook off the nerves and recorded wins in the next three games.
There’s no rest this week for the first-place team as they host Steamboat Springs on Friday and Summit on Saturday. A couple of wins there will give them some breathing room as the second half of the conference schedule comes up. Another key match on tap this week pits Battle Mountain at home against Eagle Valley. It’s an excellent rivalry match and the two teams are routinely in the chase for the league championship as they are this year.
No league contests have been played in the Colorado Springs Metro. Woodland Park has the best overall record as the Panthers are 5-0 including wins over South Central league rivals Pueblo Central and Pueblo East. The Panthers will get a test to see how they stack up against the top teams as they face 4th ranked Discovery Canyon on Thursday.
Every other conference team has at least four non-league losses so if Woodland Park compares well with the Thunder, they should become the conference favorite.
Only a few Jeffco league games have been played but #10 Evergreen (3-0) and D’Evelyn (2-0) are the only unbeaten clubs left. Both stayed unbeaten with wins on Monday as Evergreen moved past Littleton and three and D’Evelyn downed Standley Lake in four. Evergreen is done for the week while the Jags host Golden on Tuesday. The Demons are just one game back and tied with Green Mountain in third place.
Conference play gets underway in the South Central this week and most of the focus is on whether Pueblo West can continue their dominance. The Cyclones have not dropped a conference match since 2010 and have won 64 straight contests. Despite major losses to graduation, Pueblo West won six of nine non-conference games but they drop a bit closer to the rest of the conference and their streak could be in danger this year. West begins the schedule against Pueblo East on Tuesday and Pueblo South on Thursday.
East and South were five hundred in non-league action and Pueblo County matched that mark. Other than West, Pueblo Centennial (5-4) was the only other conference member to win more than they lost in non-league matches.
The Colorado 7 league roster no longer includes Fort Morgan. The defending league champs have moved to the rugged Tri Valley and that adjustment opens the door for several other teams to contend for the championship. Weld Central and Skyview are both off to 2-0 starts and share the early lead. Together they have dropped just one set in league play. The first meeting is on September 27th and round two on October 23rd.
Weld Central hosts Conifer on Tuesday and Skyview is at Alameda that night and then hosts Riverdale Ridge on Thursday.
Two-time defending state champion Lewis Palmer resides in the Pikes Peak conference and despite a league filled with great teams, the Rangers are again considered the team to beat. They’re ranked #1 again this week and have been in the top spot for the entire season.
Discovery Canyon (4th) and Palmer Ridge (5th) are two other teams in the rankings this week while Air Academy and Cheyenne Mountain are out this week but each has spent time in the poll this year.
League play doesn’t begin until the 27th and the best matchup that night is Palmer Ridge and Discovery Canyon. The Thunder host that key meeting.
Lewis Palmer has a huge date with Eaton on Saturday. The Reds have won the last five state championships in Class 3A but dropped out of the top spot following a 1-3 showing at the Eaglecrest tournament last week. The Rangers have won four of the last crowns in 4A and have beaten Eaton in regular season play each of the past two years.
The Rangers also get a tough test at 5A Rampart on Thursday. Other attractive matchups involving league members this week including two other Thursday contests between Discovery Canyon – Classical Academy and Cheyenne Mountain – Thomas Jefferson. Air Academy also visits Coronado on Friday in a battle of two likely 4A playoff clubs.
Montrose (1-1) and Durango (0-1) are a combined 1-2 in early Southwestern league competition. Both are chasing 5A members Grand Junction and Fruita Monument (both 1-0) in the standings. Montrose topped Durango in four sets last week behind 16 kills from Katie Sherwood and 28 assists by Madison Schneider. The Indians host Grand Junction Tuesday and then take a break for league play against Glenwood Springs on Saturday.
Ponderosa is ranked 2nd in Class 4A but is coming off a tough opening week in the 5A Continental with losses to losses to #1 Chaparral and Rock Canyon. The Mustangs could even that mark this week as they host Mountain Vista on Tuesday and visit Douglas County on Thursday.>