DENVER – In her high school career, Merino senior Makenna Sutter has never lost a state championship match.

At the Denver Coliseum on Saturday night, Sutter and the top-seeded Rams won 25-17, 25-21, 25-16 over No. 4 Simla to claim their fourth straight Class 1A state championship and send their senior leader off to the next phase of her life as a four-time champion. The victory also made Merino the first program to win four consecutive titles in the 1A classification.

“It’s just been so fun and I’m just going to miss it all,” Sutter said. “I’ve just grown so close with my mom and my sisters and I’m so grateful for them. It’s just a dominance that’s been built by previous seniors and leaders and I’m just grateful that I was able to be a part of that all the way from being a freshman up to my senior year. I was really taught how to be a leader and I’m grateful for that.”

From 1987-91, the Merino girls volleyball team won five straight titles while bouncing back and forth between 1A and 2A. That streak is the second longest in Colorado history behind Colorado Springs Christian School’s run of six straight from 2004-09.

In total, Merino has won 14 state championships, which is the second most of any program in Colorado preps history. Platte Valley has the most all-time championships with 15.

“It feels fantastic,” said Rams head coach Christin Sutter, who also won a championship during her career as a high school player at Merino. “I played here for an amazing coach and it’s such an honor to continue the tradition.”

It was also the second straight season in which the Rams swept their opponent in the championship match.

“They’re all so fun but it just feels so special because I’ve played with these girls for two years now and it’s just so thrilling,” Makenna Sutter said. “It hasn’t hit me yet and I’ll be sad that I have to leave them, but I’m excited for what they have in the future ahead of them. Sometimes we struggled getting motivation going into the second set especially, but we just never gave up and we were tired but we found a way to push through.”

Merino had defeated Fleming in each of the previous three championship matches before facing Simla this season.

Merino’s only loss this season is to Wiggins, the No. 1 seed in the 2A bracket.

Simla has won two titles, last winning in 1996.

Fleming, the last team not named Merino to win a title, has the second-most 1A championships with seven titles in its program’s history. The Wildcats last won in 2019 and had played in 14 of the last 17 state title matches but did not qualify for the 2023 state tournament.