LAKEWOOD -- On paper, the Silver Creek volleyball team was an afterthought.
A 26th seed with a sub-.500 record wasn't supposed to have a chance to return to the Class 4A state tournament, was it?
In seven quick sets Saturday at Green Mountain High School, that notion was blown out of the water.
The Raptors first swept the host and No. 11 Rams 25-11, 25-23, 25-17 and followed up by defeating area rival Mead 27-25, 20-25, 27-25, 25-16 to win Region 11. Just like that, the Raptors (11-13) punched their ticket to the 12-team state tournament next weekend at the Denver Coliseum.
"We saw that in our pool we didn't have one of the No. 1 teams," Silver Creek junior setter Julie Dauer said. "We figured that since Green Mountain was only 11th, we thought we could win. We knew we had a chance."
The Raptors had more than that. They were dominant against Green Mountain (18-6), using 18 kills from sophomore outside hitter Elizabeth Potter and a great all-around performance from Dauer (18 assists, 17 digs, six kills) to sweep the Rams.
The Raptors carried over their momentum to a 27-25 triumph over No. 14 Mead in the opening set. The Mavericks (17-8) came back to win the second set comfortably, but Silver Creek eked out a win in the pivotal third and dominated the fourth.
"I think it all started before today," Raptors coach Nicholle Chambers said. "We had made huge improvements and had a great week of practice. I talked to them about encouragement and positive vibes."
Potter registered 18 more kills against Mead and Dauer compiled 29 assists. The Raptors' signature play came in the latter portions of the fourth game, when libero Margaret Davis chased a wayward ball toward the mats well behind the end line.
Her desperation, over-the-head bump seemed to do an optical illusion through the rafters and made it over the net. Surprised Mead played it back softly and Potter produced a quick kill to make it 19-15.
"That was a kicker," Mead coach Rachael Ayers said. "It took our balloon and popped it."
Said Chambers: "I've never seen that before. We just had a gal who said she's been reffing since 1962 and had never seen anything like that."
It was that type of day for Silver Creek, which started the season with four seniors but now is playing with only one, middle blocker Kyra Czerwinski, after two were injured and one left the team.
Both opposing coaches said that Silver Creek's rigorous Northern League schedule prepared the Raptors for this moment, with Mead's Ayers going as far as to say the Raptors were "the team to beat" Saturday.
"We just finally put everything together today and made it happen," Dauer said.
Mead, in its first season in 4A, went 0-2 Saturday as the Mavericks also lost to Green Mountain in the final match of round-robin play. The match was shortened to three games since Silver Creek had already clinched the region.
Mead junior setter Morgan Brim finished the season with 503 assists, including 40 against Silver Creek. The Mavericks had a successful season overall, but are still adjusting to the bright lights of playoff-type competition.
"We had opportunities in every game to seal the deal and we just didn't," Ayers said of the Silver Creek match. "It shows our youth and inexperience a little bit at this level."
Follow Paul on Twitter: @PaulWillis21
Silver Creek 3, Mead 1
At Green Mountain
Silver Creek (11-13) 27 20 27 25
Mead (17-7) 25 25 25 16
Kills -- Silver Creek: Potter 18, Sulek 10, Dauer 4; Mead: Neiley 13, Martinez 13, Brim 6, Majerus 6.
Blocks -- Silver Creek: Knectel 6, Dauer 3, Potter 2; Mead: Lutz 3, Martinez 2, Neiley 2.
Assists -- Silver Creek: Dauer 29, Jayne 3, Sulek 1; Mead: Brim 40, Neiley 3.
Aces -- Silver Creek: Potter 4, Czerwinski 2, Davis 2, Hubert 2; Mead: Feaster 2, Neiley 2, Lutz 1.
Digs -- Silver Creek: Davis 13, Hubert 10, Dauer 9; Mead: Klibbe 16, Feaster 16, Neiley 14.
Silver Creek 3, Green Mountain 0
At Green Mountain HS
Silver Creek (10-13) 25 25 25
Green Mountain (17-6) 11 23 17
Kills -- Silver Creek: Potter 18, Dauer 6, Hubert 6; Green Mountain: Ikeler 16, Ziemba 4, Kuberski 3.
Blocks -- Silver Creek: Czerwinski 4, Sulek 3, Knechtel 3; Green Mountain: Van Tassel 1, Schaap 1.
Assists -- Silver Creek: Dauer 18, Jayne 10, Sulek 4; Green Mountain: Schaap 26.
Aces -- Silver Creek: Hubert 3, Sulek 2; Green Mountain: None.
Digs -- Silver Creek: Dauer 17, Davis 12, Hubert 11; Green Mountain: Quick 14, Ikeler 12, Potter 7.
Green Mountain 2, Mead 1
At Green Mountain
Mead (17-8) 23 25 11
Green Mountain (18-6) 25 21 15
Kills -- Mead: Neiley 9, Martinez 4, Lutz 3; Green Mountain: Ikeler 9, Van Tassel 5, Potter 5.
Blocks -- Mead: Lutz 3, Martinez 2, Brim 2; Green Mountain: Schaap 1, Ikeler 1, Schaller 1.
Assists -- Mead: Brim 17; Green Mountain: Schaap 18, Schaller 1, Ziemba 1.
Aces -- Mead: Feaster 1; Green Mountain: Schaller 2, Potter 1, Ziemba 1, Krenik 1, Schaap 1.
Digs -- Mead: Klibbe 12, Feaster 7, Haller 7; Green Mountain: Quick 9, Schaap 7, Ikeler 6.