Several great volleyball matches have already been played across Colorado this week but several more highly anticipated pairings are still on the weekend docket. Those matches include the top teams in 1A and 2A getting together on Friday as Merino meets Sedgwick County in the Lower Platte. Up on Thursday are pairings of Eaton-Lutheran in 3A and Frederick-Thompson Valley in 4A.
PHOTO BY OT SPORTSCHECK
MERINO AT SEDGWICK COUNTY (Friday): Easy choice as the headline match as both teams enter ranked number one in their respective class. It’s also a league contest so the winner has a good shot at landing the Lower Platte championship and an automatic bid to the regional tournament. The Rams are the defending 1A state champions and have opened this year 6-0 which includes a four-set win over Otis on Tuesday. They don’t post stats to MaxPreps but have solid returnees from the state title team in Taysa Conger, Makenna Sutter and Amanda Thorpe. Sedgwick County (7-1) suffered their first loss of the season earlier this week but it came in five sets to Chase County NE. In-state, they’ve dropped four sets in seven wins; a list that includes wins over Haxtun, Briggsdale (twice) and Yuma. Gabrielle Powell is the top hitter (89 kills) with Jensen Renquist and Kierra Ehnes tied for second (52 apiece). Powell and Ehnes share the digs lead (70 apiece) while Allison Woodhams leads in assists (127).
EATON AT LUTHERAN (Thursday): Volleyball fans across the state know that regardless of ranking or record at this point of the season, the Reds and Lions will be at the 3A state tournament and likely make a deep run once there. Eaton is “only” 4-3 overall but they are unbeaten against 3A competition as they’ve beaten Platte Valley, Faith Christian and Brush in their last three matchups. Juniors Emily Maske (55) and Rylee Martin (51) lead the Reds in kills with Martin also topping the club with 99 assists. Senior Megan St. Jean is next with 82. Lutheran (7-1) has played just three matches in-state and all are sweeps including a nice win over 4A perennial power Lewis Palmer. Audrey Brgoch and Brindelyn Schneider each collected nine kills the win; Katrina Deering and Rya Fingerlin each served three aces and Chloe Heimlicher had a dozen digs.
THOMPSON VALLEY AT FREDERICK (Thursday): The two clubs are prime example of why we should not pay much attention to preseason rankings. Neither was listed among the top 15 teams in Class 4A to open the season but they entered this week ranked fourth (Frederick) and fifth (Thompson Valley) respectively. Now they collide in the first of two meetings that should determine the Tri Valley champion. The Warriors (11-1) are 3-0 in league action; beating Roosevelt, Fort Morgan and Berthoud and dropping just one set in the process. Kinley Lindhardt (19) and Katelin Sindelar (12) combined for 31 kills in Tuesday’s win over Berthoud. Thompson Valley split four matches at the rugged Lewis Palmer tournament last Saturday and is coming off a 3-0 sweep of Roosevelt on Tuesday. Tatum Sharp (99 kills) and Avery Gibbs (80) are highly talented freshman hitters. Classmate Ashlyn Tafoya has a team high 379 assists and junior Allie Mertens tops the Eagles with 122.
LEGEND AT HIGHLANDS RANCH (Thursday): With so many good clubs in the 5A Continental, it’s difficult to pick the one that may eventually determine the league champion. This one though belongs on the list as both teams have enough firepower to challenge preseason favorite Chaparral for the championship. Legend swept Ponderosa 3-0 in their league opener on Tuesday. The finished with 13 aces in three sets including four from Hannah Shonka and three apiece from Abby Petera and Ania Swartzendruber. HIghlands Ranch has three losses overall with two coming against top ranked Grandview. They pushed them to five sets in the first meeting. League play started on Tuesday with the Falcons gaining a 3-0 sweep of ThunderRidge. Lillie Lynch had 13 kills, Dani Crawford 11 and Jolie Cranford 10.
CHERAW AT KIT CARSON (Friday): After beating McClave 3-0 on Tuesday, Kit Carson can move very close to the High Plains league championship with another win over Cheraw. The Wolverines more than likely are the last hurdle for KC as they will be favored in their final two league matches against Eads and Granada. The win over McClave wasn’t easy as the final two sets were decided by two points apiece. Kenzie Waggoner powered down 13 kills and Tess Johnson added eight. Payge Booker-Rady registered 14 digs and Johnson 11. Torrie Randel (20) and Lindsey Mahan (8) combined for 28 assists. For Cheraw, this is their first conference match but they’ve won six straight since an opening loss to highly ranked Wiley (3-1). Morgan McReynolds and Kenzie Bartholomew are the first two options at the net with Crislyn Miell and Sheridan Honey are charged with setting them up.
STRATTON AT WILEY (Saturday): A non-league match but a very important contest regarding playoff bracketing as the Panthers are ranked fourth in 1A this week and Stratton sixth. Wiley of course is still dealing with the tragedy that killed four students last week but the Panthers got back on the court this week in beating South Baca in three sets. It was a very emotional win. Stratton is seeing their first action of the week after closing last week with quality sweeps of Genoa Hugo and Otis. They’ve won five in a row since a tournament loss to Haxtun. Kennedy Frank (71 kills) is the top hitter with McKenna Notter (58) next in line. Madison Tagtmeyer, with 103 digs, is the top defender with Notter again second on the list with 80. Sedonia Isenbert has 178 assists and directs the attack.
TOP RANKED LAMAR HAS TOUGH WEEKEND: As the highest ranked team in Class 3A, the Savages are favored to land the Tri Peaks championship but this could be their toughest weekend of the league slate. They host St Mary’s on Thursday and then head to Manitou Springs the next day. Combined, the clubs are 9-3 and along with James Irwin (7-0) could be the top challengers to unseating Lamar at the top of the standings. The Savages surrendered just 47 points in blowing past Buena Vista in their conference opener. Sydney Dunning led the defense with 22 digs and Brooklyn Robbins had 16. Dunning also chalked up 21 kills on offense with Fernanda Merancio adding 12.
SAN JUAN LEAGUE STARTS TO SORT OUT: 1A Dove Creek (7-1) is favored to win the league championship again this year but the Bulldogs could see challenges from the likes of Ignacio (4-1), Dolores (4-5) and Telluride (3-4). Those four square off in two matches on Saturday as Dove Creek hosts Ignacio and Telluride makes the drive to Dolores. Dove Creek moved past Nucla in four for their conference opening win on Wednesday night. Ignacio features senior hitter Alexis Pontine (47 kills) and sophomore setter Kacey Brown (66 assists). Erin Brown leads Dolores with 57 kills and 58 digs; Telluride has a nice trio at the net in Emma Righetti (51 kills), Emery Berry (45) and Zoe Rommel (37).
WEST GRAND HAS THREE CONFERENCE MATCHUPS IN THREE DAYS: Top 10 league members Meeker, Soroco and Olathe are favored to grab the top three spots in the 2A/1A Western Slope chase but West Grand would like to be in that mix as well. To do so, they will need to upset Olathe on Saturday and also beat North Park (Thursday) and Hayden (Friday) the two previous nights. They’ve already faced and lost to North Park (3-2) in a non-league contest earlier this year so they’ll be looking for a bit of revenge when they step on the court Thursday night. Seniors Maddie Probst (53 kills) and Alex Schake (50) earn equal opportunities at the net for the Mustangs and classmate Allie Daly leads them with 134 assists.
There are several other matchups on tap this weekend that have caught our attention:
- Mountain Vista (3-1) at Douglas County (8-0) – Thursday
- Platte Valley (5-6) at Faith Christian (5-2) – Thursday
- Mead (4-6) at Holy Family (7-5) – Thursday
- Palmer Ridge (7-1) at Pueblo County (6-3) – Thursday
- Meeker (6-0) at Cedaredge (5-4) – Friday
- Fleming (8-1) at Holyoke (5-4) – Saturday
- Tournaments are set for Eaglecrest & Thornton – Saturday