DENVER – With a 25-22, 25-21, 25-20 win over St. Mary’s in its first match of the Class 2A girls volleyball state tournament, Wiggins simply took care of business in the way it was supposed to. But it wasn’t always like this.

Standing in the tunnels of the Denver Coliseum, coach Michelle Baker couldn’t help but think back to a time in which the Tigers weren’t considered a favorite to win a state title. In fact, they were the furthest thing from it.

In her first season as coach, back in the fall of 2009, the Tigers won just six matches. Competitive by nature, Baker wanted to coach a winner. Doing it elsewhere wasn’t an option so she began building.

Once the foundation was solid, the Tigers started reaching levels that they had never gotten to. It culminated with a 2A state championship in the spring of 2021. Since then, Wiggins has been seen as one of the powerhouses of the classification, but it helps to remembers the roots of the program’s struggles as it takes aim at a second title in three seasons.

“Coach (Erin) Kerr and I reflect on it a lot, we’ve been here since the beginning,” Baker said. “It keeps us humble and that’s the biggest thing that we’ve remembered throughout the years.”

Humility is a big core value when it comes to the Tigers (23-3 overall) and their championship aspirations. They got to experience the thrill of winning state in the spring of 2021 and even with those humble roots in mind, they would love to elevate the program to a consistent level of dominance in 2A.

“We’ve been at state I think this is our sixth year in a row,” outside hitter Tyleigh Fehseke said. “We had never won state until my freshman year two years ago. From that point on we’ve continued to progress and build the program, starting with the little ones and building up from there.”

That progressive build has put the program in a position that Baker could have never predicted in her first year. The Tigers are the favorites to battle their way to the 2A title. This is a far cry from the underdog Wiggins teams from the past.

And although it means that her development plan has worked for the team, it no long has an edge that she believed helped fuel that first state championship run.

“I’m more nervous about this state tournament than I have been any state tournament,” Baker said. “And I think that’s because we are coming in as that No. 1 seed. We like to be the underdog. We like to fight for it. I think that makes strong women and strong people.”

Getting a three-set win in their first match isn’t quite the fight that the Tigers are seeking but as they get deeper into the tournament, they’ll see better teams and they’ll eventually get that fight.

And no matter the result, being in that position still feels surreal when considering where the program was when Baxter took over.

(Dan Mohrmann/


Class 3A

The mighty have fallen in the 3A tournament. The second wave of matches featured the top four seeds in action and three of those four teams walked away with a loss. Resurrection Christian beat No. 1 Lamar, University beat No. 2 Platte Valley and Alamosa beat No. 4 Faith Christian.

In the nightcap, No. 2 Eaton hung on to beat Centauri and grabbed a clear edge as the top team to head into Day 2 without a loss.

Class 5A

In what should be a competitive tournament, top seed Valor Christian advanced to Day 2 without a loss on its record as did Grandview, Rock Canyon and Cherry Creek.

No. 4 Rampart had a first-round bye and faced a tough Grandview team. The Rams jumped out to a 2-0 lead only to see the Wolves claw and scratch their way to a five-set win.

Class 1A

Simla ended the night with an upset with over No. 2 Kit Carson to move into Day 2 without a loss on its record. The Cubs had beaten Otis earlier in the day and seemingly found their rhythm which helped in their second match of the night.

Merino, McCave and Fleming all advanced to Day 2 without a loss.

Class 4A

Early in the Alexa Strube, it can’t be said that Lewis-Palmer volleyball is all the way back. But it could be well on its way. The Rangers fended off Durango in its first match of the day before completing dominating Lutheran to advance to Day 2 undefeated.

The Lions beat L-P in four sets during the regular season, but the Rangers delivered swift payback, getting their own four-set win at state.

Palmer Ridge, Thompson Valley and Windsor join the Rangers as teams going into Day 2 without a loss.