With the state volleyball tournament days away, much love has been heaped upon the favorites.
Doherty (Colorado Springs)
seemingly has already been anointed the champ in Class 5A. The Spartans are ranked No. 6 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Volleyball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard
And no team can dethrone four-time champion Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs)
in 4A, right?
Undefeated Valley (Gilcrest)
is said to be untouchable in 3A, and most believe unbeaten squads Lutheran (Parker)
are on a collision course for 2A supremacy.
The 1A title match has featured Otis
the past four years, so why would anyone expect any different this weekend?
Well, some of these widely believed assertions will probably become reality. But here's a look at a few teams in each classification that have the potential to obliterate the common belief Friday and Saturday at the Denver Coliseum. Play begins each day at 8 a.m., and all finals are scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday. In 5A
, second-seeded Eaglecrest (Centennial)
is seeded between unbeaten Doherty and two-time champ Chaparral (Parker)
. That means little love for the Raptors. But make no mistake, the 21-3 squad is loaded with top players such as outside hitter Taylor Loyd
, middle blocker Ruth Okoye
and sophomore setter Jordyn Poulter
"We have not thought about Doherty at all this year except this week to prepare for possibly seeing them at state," said Eaglecrest coach Tanya Bond, who has posted a 107-32 record with the Raptors.
"Our focus this entire year has just been on us and what we do every day in our gym to get better. . . . We preach that you have to practice every day like you expect to play and as a Raptor we expect to play like champions."
Loyd missed the Region 2 tournament last week because of an ankle injury, but the Raptors are aiming to get her back to speed by the weekend. Bond praised the reserves that performed admirably in Loyd's absence, but would love to have one of her top players back at top form.
"If she can be at full strength then I expect we should be very competitive this weekend," said Bond, whose pool includes 2011 runner-up Grandview (Aurora)
Another trio of teams to consider are No. 4 Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village)
, No. 5 Mountain Vista (Highlands Ranch)
and No. 9 Lakewood
, one of which will come out of Pool 4. In 4A
, Cheyenne Mountain and Lewis-Palmer (Monument)
rightfully have earned much of the acclaim. But a third team lost only one game this season, and that was to Eaglecrest in a late-season tournament.
We're talking about Longmont
(24-1), which staged a perfect 14-0 run through the rugged Northern League this season.
"The chemistry we share and teamwork on the court is just phenomenal," said Cloie Cox
, the Trojans' lone senior. "We all have that drive to give 100 percent on every play."
Others to consider in 4A include Windsor
and Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch)
, paired with upset-minded Ponderosa (Parker)
in Pool 4. The 3A state tourney
almost looks like an advertisement for the quality of volleyball in the northern portion of the state. Top-seeded Valley, No. 2 Platte Valley (Kersey)
and No. 4 University (Greeley)
all are in close proximity and have had standout seasons.
crashed the party.
The Wolverines (22-3) and coach Kelley Rifilato wrangled in the No. 3 seed and will travel from the southwestern portion of the state to try to break through the northern curtain.
Sophomores Suzie Rhodes
and Kirstie Hillyer
join senior standout Jennifer Phelps
to guide an aggressive attack. The Wolverines have to be careful in their own pool, though, considering No. 6 Gunnison
is entering on a 20-match winning streak.
"I am so happy to be a part of this," Phelps told the Durango Herald after Bayfield won the Region 3 tournament on its home floor. "We realized that this could be it, especially as seniors. This is our last go-round."
Don't count out defending champion Eaton,
either. The Reds, another Greeley-area participant, are lurking as the No. 7 seed. Fifth-seeded St. Mary's (Colorado Springs)
and No. 8 Holy Family (Broomfield)
also would like to shake up the bracket, but the latter will have to do so in Valley's pool. In 2A,
we mentioned unbeaten Lutheran (24-0), the defending champ that hasn't lost since Oct. 15, 2011, and fellow unblemished Simla (25-0). Sandwiched between those two, as the No. 2 seed, is Swink
(22-2). And No. 4 Akron
(24-1) could have just as good a shot as the remaining squads.
Akron has received solid across-the-board production, led by seniors Sidney Merrill
(355 kills), Allyson Vasquez
(264) and sophomore Karli Christensen
(648 assists). In 1A
, Otis and Fleming could meet for a fifth straight season. But it would be considered an upset, at least in regards to seeds, if the matchup occurs. Otis is seeded No. 3 and Fleming No. 5.
Battle-tested Weldon Valley (Weldona)
is the top seed and Caliche (Iliff)
sits at No. 2. These two have squared off three times this season, with Weldon Valley winning two, although Caliche knocked off the Warriors in Region 8 play last week. Hi-Plains (Seibert)
checks in at No. 4. The Patriots have won 11 of their last 12 matches.