As the season works into mid-September, it’s already getting difficult to narrow the long list of volleyball matches through the week to the most important ten. But we make the effort and our list is below. Conference matches move to the top of our ladder and there are a few of note on tap this week.
CLASS 3A: Montezuma Cortez at Alamosa (Saturday)
Alamosa is the defending Intermountain League champion and is favored to land another title but Montezuma Cortez could be their most difficult challenger. The Panthers picked up 16 victories in 2018 and return basically their entire roster, plus they received a boost in transfer Myka Glover from Del Norte. She led the team the kilss ( 12) in their season opening win over Dolores. Avery Wright collected with Devyn McHenry and Grace Olsen collecting four apiece. All four hitters are underclassmen so regardless of the outcome this week, the future is very bright for the Panthers. Leigha Comisky, a junior, handed out 26 assists. Alamosa enters the week 5-1 with a lone loss to Denver Christian, the number one ranked team in Class 2A, coming at the Glenwood Springs Tournament last Saturday. They did post quality wins over Coal Ridge and the host Demons at that event as well. Saturday’s contest is the first two conference meetings with the Panthers with the rematch coming up very quickly as well (September 21st)
CLASS 1A/2A: Dove Creek at Dolores (Tuesday)
Staying in the Southwest, we look at an important clash inside the 1A/2A San Juan conference where the Bulldogs and Bears seem to battle for the crown every year. Last season continued the trend as they shared the top spot with one loss apiece. Dove Creek was considered the champion as they outlasted the Bears in five hard fought sets. Dove Creek (7-0) has dropped only two sets thus far; one apiece to Caprock Academy and Mancos. They’ve not played a strong schedule thus far with their best victory likely against 3A Delta. Dolores (3-3) has losses to Montezuma Cortez, John Mall and Sangre De Cristo but has responded with wins over Center, Caprock Academy and DeBeque.
The Bears rely on outside hitter Jordan Elder. She led them to 18 victories a year ago and compiled 270 kills. Another key returnee is Sydney Smith who had 115 kills as a sophomore. Dove Creek returns Cassie Gatlin who collected 12 kills in last year’s win over Dolores. Taylor Hickman is also back and she recorded 30 assists in last year’s battle.
Two other teams that could be in the conference title discussion are Telluride and Ignacio. The Miners are 6-1 and also have a good test with Dolores on tap this week (Thursday). Dolores won the 2018 date in three quick sets. Telluride was led by Danika Petit with 10 kills and 12 assists. Morgan Watkinson finished with 20 assists and 12 digs.
CLASS 1A: Briggsdale at Prairie (Friday)
The Falcons and Mustangs both posted quality North Central league wins last week as the Falcons took out Fleming and Prairie bested Weldon Valley. Now the winners collide on Friday and the survivor grabs an early lead in a division that features four teams in the Top 10.
For Briggsdale, the Fleming win continued good results against a strong early season schedule. They’ve also beaten a Merino team that worked their way to the NJC tournament title last Saturday. Another early season victory against Sedgwick County also looks much better since the Cougars later beat 2A defending state champion Yuma.
Prairie welcomed back Hannah Kinnison is a big way as she powered through 30 kills in the win over Weldon Valley. The senior is a strong Player of the Year candidate after missing much of her junior season to injury. She will likely get many chances again this Friday against a strong Briggsdale defense.
CLASS 3A: St Mary’s at Lamar (Tuesday)
This is a very important clash in the Tri Peaks as the winner likely steps up as the top challenger to Colorado Springs Christian in the league race. Manitou Springs and possibly La Junta are two other clubs that could be a factor as well. St Mary’s won their season opener against Trinidad (3-1) as Seneca Hackley finished with 18 kills. The game also marked the program debut for David Barkley. He stepped down from Cheyenne Mountain two years ago after leading the Indians to several 4A state championships. He’s now back on the sideline hoping to build the Pirates into a 3A power.
Lamar’s record is only 3-2 that’s considered misleading as the losses are against traditional powers Eaton and University. They pushed the Reds to five full sets and also gained a set against University before falling short. This is their conference opener and playing at home should give them a nice advantage.
The Savages also feature a nice mix of veteran leadership and talented youth. Senior Maddy Williams has 70 kills and freshman Sydney Dunning is second with 69. Seniors Taelyn Sicklebower (54) and Gabby Marquez (50) have combined for 104 digs while freshman Abby Robbins has already recorded 165 assists.
CLASS 2A: Union Colony Prep at Clear Creek (Thursday)
Denver Christian is ranked #1 again this week and remain favored to win the conference crown but the Mile High is filled with other quality clubs including these two. As a result, this contest will eventually be important in the league standings and regional tournament pairings. They’ll battle with the likes of Dawson, Highland, Lyons, Dayspring Christian and Heritage Christian for a top three position.
Union Colony Prep (5-0) enters the week unbeaten with quality wins over Briggsdale, Paonia and Lyons. Mayson Fago remains their top offensive threat and with 74 kills, is off to a hot start. Kamryn Arnold has added 40 and Haylee Wood 31. Fago is also second in digs with 45 behind team leader Jisela Chairez (66). Desirae Pisano has 131 assists.
Clear Creek also faces Highland this week so it’s a crucial stretch to see if they play with and beat top level clubs in the conference. The junior tandem of Makena Weber (48) and Luna Weaver (36) pace the Golddiggers in hitting. A third junior, Zeda Taylor, has 116 digs. Sophomore Aiden Kocol (65 assists) and senior Molly Buckley (64) share duties at setter.
CLASS 1A/2A: Genoa Hugo at Limon (Thursday)
Maybe the most difficult schedule of any team in any class belongs to Genoa Hugo. The Pirates meet unbeaten Stratton/Liberty on Tuesday, Limon on Thursday and Otis on Saturday. Combined the three opponents have just two losses overall and two of them (Limon & Otis) are ranked highly in their respective class. Of the three, we list this match as it could determine the championship of the Union Pacific league.
Genoa Hugo (3-0) has not posted stats to MaxPreps but they return their top three hitters from last year’s 15-9 club in Ryely Smart, Glorya Carr and Brylee Miller. Top defender Mindy Carr is also back as is leading setter Tess Smith. They’ve opened the season with wins over Eads (3-1), Cheraw (3-0) and Cheyenne Wells (3-1).
Limon split quality matches with Kit Carson (lost 3-2) and Hoehne (won 3-0) last week and their match with Genoa Hugo is their only action of the week. Trista Marx (15), Sidney Hines (11) and Jaley Schubarth (11) all reached double figures in kills against Kit Carson while Lauren Stang (25) and Amy Weisensee (24) combined for 49 assists. In the win over Hoehne, the Badgers gave up only 38 points in three sets. The defensive effort was led by Hines with six blocks and 17 digs. Schubarth matched her with six blocks and Marx led the Badgers with 21 digs.
CLASS 4A/5A: Lewis Palmer at Chaparral (Tuesday)
Each team started the season ranked #1 in their respective class but both have already suffered setbacks. The Rangers are coming off a three-set loss to 5A Grandview while Chaparral has losses to Cherokee Trail (3-1) and Legend (3-2) on their early season resume. Still the Wolverines have beaten Grandview twice so they’ll be favored at home against the three-time defending 4A state champions.
Chaparral is led by the Dalton sisters. Julianna is the top hitter with 77 kills while Katie paces the Wolverines with 146 assists. Both have plenty of their help as Emma Ammerman has produced 74 kills and Makenzie Rice with 123 assists. Ammerman also paces the team with 23 aces.
Lewis Palmer has a busy week in place as they also host their annual Invitational on Friday. They will battle Bayfield and Thompson Valley in pool play but could face the likes of Pueblo West, Montrose and Platte Valley in later contests.
CLASS 5A: Legend at Rampart (Tuesday)
A match that was probably not on the radar at the beginning of the season suddenly becomes very attractive since both clubs have quickly climbed up the 5A rankings. Legend sits third this week while Rampart, thanks to a hot 3-0 start, enters the poll for the first time at number six.
Of the two, Legend has played the much stronger schedule; splitting two matches against #1 Cherokee Trial and beating #2 Chaparral (3-2). They’ve also beaten traditional powers Holy Family (3-1) and Lakewood (3-0). By comparison, the Rams have three game sweeps of Douglas County, Vista Ridge and Denver South. The Tuesday match with Legend begins a stronger stretch for the Rams as it will be followed by dates with 4A powers Air Academy (12th), Palmer Ridge (19th), Lewis Palmer (26th) and Cheyenne Mountain (Oct 1st).
For Rampart, juniors Riley Simpson (41 kills) and Anjelina Starck (39) get about equal chances at the net each match. Sophomore Ashlyn Phair has handed 100 assists while Grace Wilkinson (34) and Starck (26) have combined for 60 digs.
Rylie Kadel (89 kills) paces the Legend offense. Support comes from Chandler Fleming (45) and four others with at least 20. Peyton Dunn (16) and Hannah Detter (11) have both reached double figures in aces and Briar Moore has already posted 75 digs. Dunn also leads the team with 167 assists.
CLASS 3A: Resurrection Christian at Lutheran (Tuesday)
Maybe the biggest question going into this match involves the status of returning 3A Player of the Year Payton Brgoch who did not see action in last week’s opener against Valley. Despite her absence the defending state champions still rallied to beat the Vikings in five sets. Audrey Brgoch (16) and Kennedey Johnson (12) combined for 28 kills in the win.
Resurrection Christian (1-1) opened with a win over Lyons and then came up short to Faith Christian. Both matches finished in three sets. The Cougars had 31 kills in the loss but no individual reached double figures. Heather Blake topped the list with nine, Aly Reeser had seven and Jeorgia Jones six. Kyle Nordhagen added 12 assists.
The Cougars schedule gets quite a bit busier this week as they also take part in the Machebeuf tournament on Saturday. They should play at least five matches there including a pool match against Prospect Ridge. The Miners are coming off their first ever visit to the state tournament a year ago.
CLASS 1A/3A: Sangre De Cristo at Alamosa (Thursday)
There’s no such thing as the San Luis Valley championship but if there was, this match this year would likely before the title. The T-Birds and Moose seem to be the best clubs (regardless of class) from that region so area bragging rights are up for grabs. Both clubs are also coming off state tournament visits.
Sangre De Cristo has already posted wins over 2A rivals Sargent, Dolores and Crowley County so they likely won’t be intimidated by playing a larger school. Alamosa of course, won’t want a loss to a 1A rival on their post-season resume so look for this match to be hotly contested. Both teams must also think about important league matches on the schedule this week. As mentioned, the Moose meet Montezuma Cortez while Sangre De Cristo must not look past another local rival in Mountain Valley.
Now the T-Birds are expected to battle La Veta for the Southern Peaks championship but the Indians hope to be a sleeper. They enter the week at 5-1 but their schedule has not been strong with wins coming against Centennial, Creede and Primero. They also face La Veta this week so they’ll know right away if they can challenge for a top two league finish. They’re led by Alyssa Hamel (46 kills), Laura Morfit (43 assists) and Katelyn Stewart (25 aces)
Ashley Mortensen has 24 kills to lead the Sangre offense and she gets plenty of help from Avery Palmgren (21), Makenzie Rogers (21) and Lexi Metz (19). Mortensen (13) and Palmgren (11) have also combined for 24 aces. Renae Sinclair has 61 assists and Jordyn Cantu enters the week with 40 digs.
Several other matches on the volleyball schedule drew consideration to make our Top 10 list.
- Genoa Hugo at Stratton/Liberty (Tuesday) – both teams are 3-0 going in
- Wiggins at Weldon Valley (Tuesday) – great local rivalry between quality clubs
- University at Holy Family (Tuesday) – great tradition in both clubs
- Palmer Ridge at Pueblo West (Tuesday) – both teams should be serious threats to making the 4A state tournament field
- Rock Canyon at Cherry Creek (Wednesday) – teams could easily meet in the state tournament as well
- Fort Collins at Chatfield (Wednesday) – couple of 5A teams in and out of the early season Top 10 polls
- Ponderosa at Grandview (Thursday) – Wolves coach Rob Graham takes on his former program
- Chaparral at Cheyenne Mountain (Thursday) – teams regularly make the Final 4 in 5A and 4A respectively
- Cherokee Trail at Chatfield (Friday) – excellent 5A pairing that could again be a preview of a state tourney match
- Wiggins at Prairie (Saturday) – non-conference battle but good test for both clubs
- Otis at Genoa Hugo (Saturday) – third difficult match of the week for the Pirates
- Lewis Palmer Tournament
- Several good matches on tap but Montrose, Platte Valley and Pueblo West are all in the same pool and will play each other early in the day