The Class 5A Continental League might just be the epitome of depth in the state volleyball scene.
Consider that roughly midway through the 2017 regular season, six of the league's 11 teams have at least seven victories. Four teams in 5A have won 10 games to this point, and two of those – Castle View (Castle Rock)
and Highlands Ranch
– are from the Continental. The league also owns the top three spots in the most recent CHSAANow.com rankings and four of the top six overall.
The state's top-ranked program in 5A, Castle View, has emerged as one of the favorites in a loaded classification. The Sabercats were not one of the 12 teams to qualify for the state tournament a year ago, but after taking fourth-seeded Chatfield (Littleton)
to five sets in regional play, Castle View opened some eyes heading into the 2017 season.
All the team has done over its past four matches is defeat the teams currently ranked in the 2-4 spots, along with a very good Legend (Parker)
program. So while Castle View may not necessarily qualify as a "surprise" team this fall, the Sabercats are proving that they – and the rest of the Continental League – warrant watching over the next month.
Castle View has good company around the rest of the state in what the program has accomplished up to this point. Here is a look at some teams – and players – who have made an impact through September:
• Castle View's Lauren Lowry
has set the table for the rest of her teammates. The senior leads 5A, and ranks second in the state overall, with 434 assists. Her 11.4 assists-per-set rank first overall. Sophomore Leanne Lowry
is also pacing 5A with 262 digs, just ahead of Sam Novak
of Mountain Vista (Highlands Ranch)
• Legacy (Broomfield)
junior Bailee Newham
and senior Taylor Hyatt
rank 1-2 in the state in total blocks at 94 and 83, respectively. The Lightning are off to a 3-0 start in the Front Range League.
• Speaking of the Front Range, Fossil Ridge (Fort Collins)
(7-3), Rocky Mountain (Fort Collins)
(10-1) and Fort Collins
(7-1) are ranked in the top 10. The Lobos swept the defending state champions last week behind a balanced lineup that featured five players with at least four kills.
• Getting back to the Continental League, Rock Canyon (Highlands Ranch)
senior Keeley Davis
leads the state with 227 kills. Highlands Ranch sophomore Cassie Davis
' .558 hitting percentage is easily the best in the state as well. Davis has 155 kills, good for third-best in 5A.
• Fruita Monument
is also sitting at 10-1 overall behind the play of senior Riley Snyder
, who is second to Davis in 5A in kills with 158. Teammate Dana Thomson
is 10th with 127. The team's only loss came to Rock Canyon.
• Who is going to step up and slow down the freight train that is defending 4A champion Lewis-Palmer (Monument)
? The Rangers are 11-0, have dropped only one set all year (to Grandview (Aurora)
) and are coming off a sweep of 3A's top-ranked team in Eaton
. The team has great balance up front, and junior McKenna Sciacca
's 290 assists ranks seventh in 4A.
• Holy Family (Broomfield)
is 11-2, and the state runner-up's only losses have come to 5A's Rock Canyon and Castle View. Junior Ali Travis
leads 4A with 172 kills; senior Julia Giltner
is first with 54 total blocks; sophomore Peyton Frank
leads the classification with 279 digs; and senior Sara Berghoff
is second with 349 assists.
• Second-ranked Niwot's
only setback came to Lewis-Palmer. The Cougars' Mackenzie Fidelak
is second in 4A in hitting percentage at .464.
• Palmer Ridge (Monument)
will take its shot at rival Lewis-Palmer on Thursday. The No. 6 Bears (10-1) have a quartet of sensational freshmen in Mac Russ
(102 kills, .420 hitting percentage), Riley Simpson
(99 kills, 19 aces), Grace McIntosh
(first in 4A with 350 assists) and Elaina Della Rosa
(first on team with 88 digs).
• Three teams from the Jeffco League are ranked in the top 10. Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch)
is No. 3, undefeated D'Evelyn (Denver)
is No. 9 and Evergreen
is the 10th. League plays begins this evening with the Jaguars visiting Evergreen.Class 3A
• As four-time defending state champion Eaton pursues another title, the Reds have gotten off to a 10-1 start while facing a gauntlet of a schedule. Besides the loss to Lewis-Palmer, Eaton has defeated 5A ranked foes in Mountain Vista and Fossil Ridge. The team's Patriot League schedule still includes No. 2 University (Greeley)
, No. 3 Resurrection Christian (Loveland)
and No. 8 Valley (Gilcrest)
• Reds senior Chelsey Lockey
leads 3A with 348 assists, and junior Mackenzie Harris
is second in kills (189) and hitting percentage (.394).
• The Metro League features five teams with at least eight victories and three ranked squads in No. 4 Lutheran (Parker)
, No. 5 Faith Christian (Arvada)
and No. 9 Bishop Machebeuf (Denver)
. Lutheran sophomore Payton Brgoch
leads 3A in hitting at .446. Machebeuf junior Adrianna Casados
is tied for sixth in the state with 40 aces.
• Sixth-ranked Lamar
finished 12-12 a year ago, but the Savages are off to an 11-1 start in 2017. Sophomore Cali Clark
is third in 3A with 126 kills.
• University's only two losses have to come to Eaton and 4A Niwot. Headed into a big three-game stretch against Resurrection Christian, Valley and Eaton, the Bulldogs have two players with more than 100 kills in Aracely Hernandez
(127) and Madelyn Malm
cemented its hold on the top ranking in 2A with a five-set victory over Lyons
last week. The Indians (8-1) have only lost to 3A University, and junior Chasey Blach
leads 2A with 175 kills. Lyons sophomore Taylor Maguire
isn't far behind at 173.
• Defending champion Dayspring Christian (Greeley)
was handed its first loss in two years to Lyons on Sept. 14. But the No. 3 Eagles have won four in a row since, including a five-set thriller over No. 4 Simla
. Seniors Megan Roberts
(171 kills, 38 blocks, .401 hitting percentage) and Katie Kurz
(165 kills, 88 digs, 41 blocks and .442 hitting) are a force at the net.
junior Chloe Baker
leads the state with 438 assists and senior Courtney Jenson
leads 2A with 251 digs. The 10th-ranked Tigers are 12-1 but still have Yuma on the schedule.Class 1A
• Kit Carson
is a team on a mission. After a nearly-perfect season a year ago – the Wildcats lost to Fleming
in the state title game – Kit Carson is 11-0 and has not dropped a set all season. Junior Tess Hornung
leads 1A in hitting at .412.
• Second-ranked Fleming's only loss came to 3A Bishop Machebeuf. Senior Alli Keisel
leads the team with 117 kills and freshman Kendyl Kirkwood
is third in 1A with 254 assists.
junior Kallie Cathcart
leads 1A with 80 blocks and is third in the state overall. The No. 3 Wildcats are 9-1 overall.
• No. 8 Briggsdale
was just 12-10 last fall, but the Falcons have started 10-2. Senior Skyla Miller
leads 1A with 138 kills and is second with 58 blocks.