At 22-1, the Longmont volleyball team entered regional tournament play last week knowing it was good.
But sometimes when you blow through a conference the way the Trojans did -- 14-0 in Northern League play, losing only four sets along the way -- the question can become, "Is LHS that good, or is the rest of the conference that bad?"
The Trojans (24-1), who cruised to their own regional title, got a pretty solid answer when the rest of the tourney results came in last weekend. Five of the eight teams in the Northern League won regionals to qualify for this weekend's 12-team state tournament field in Class 4A. And while LHS and Thompson Valley were both expected to advance, Broomfield (No. 15), Mountain View (No. 16) and Silver Creek (No. 26) were all seeded outside the top 12 when regionals began only to pull off upsets.
"It's really really exciting," Longmont coach Holli Stetson "We do come from a traditionally strong league and felt like it was fairly strong this year. We hope that's a reflection of what we can do at state."
The Trojans enter the state tournament at the Denver Coliseum seeded third behind No. 1 Cheyenne Mountain and No. 2 Lewis-Palmer. They'll face No. 10 Broomfield and No. 6 Coronado in pool play.
Pool play begins for all classifications at 8 a.m. Friday, and the Trojans will face Broomfield in the sixth 4A match of the day, sometime in the afternoon. The Coronado match will be the third on Saturday morning. The winner of each pool advances to Saturday's 3 p.m. semifinals. Championship matches are at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The Trojans began the season 22-0 before falling to 5A state qualifier Eaglecrest in the final match of the regular season. They're gunning for the program's first state title since LHS won its third in four years in 1996. Longmont has reached the semifinals two other times (2007, 2010) under Stetson, who is in her ninth season as head coach, but was beaten both times.
"Our goal was never to have an undefeated season," Stetson said of the Eaglecrest loss. "Our goal has always been to win a state championship."
Despite their 22-0 start to the season, Stetson said her players weren't put out by being the third seed in the postseason. Cheyenne Mountain, after all, is two-time defending state champ for one thing.
"Seeding just gives you a starting point," Stetson said. "You have to beat everyone anyway to get that state championship."
HOLY FAMILY TRIES TO PLAY SPOILER
Holy Family might be seeded just eighth entering the 3A state volleyball tournament at the Denver Coliseum on Friday and Saturday. But don't be fooled by the Tigers' 16-9 record.
Their schedule has been a brutal one.
They started the season just 2-7. But five of those losses came against 5A competition, including state qualifiers Chaparral and Chatfield. The other two losses came against 4A No. 4 Windsor and 3A No. 1 Valley. Since then, the Tigers are 14-2, finishing second in the Metro League.
Holy Family opens state tourney pool play with an 8 a.m. Friday match against Manitou Springs. They then face a rematch with Valley on Saturday morning. The best of the three teams will make the semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
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