DENVER — In his first time coaching the Lyons volleyball team at the state tournament, Mason Johnson was relieved that the Lions were able to avoid the pitfalls and upsets that can abruptly ruin a state tournament run on Day 1.
Entering with the third overall seed in the Class 2A tournament, Lyons took care of business on the opening day of the tournament and positioned itself well for the second. While most of the 60 teams in the five classifications have one remaining pool play match on Saturday, the Lions (23-4) played their way right into the semifinals with a pair of pool play wins at the Denver Coliseum on Friday.
The Lions defeated 10th-seed Colorado Springs School (21-4), 25-16, 25-20, 25-15 and sixth-seeded Limon (19-6), 25-16, 19-25, 25-21, 25-22.
"We rose to the level of play and owned our seed today," Lions head coach Mason Johnson said. "The girls played awesome. There's not a whole lot more I could ask of them. They battled and they fought so I'm really proud of that."
The Lions can sleep well Friday night knowing they locked up a semifinals berth. Johnson, however, said he would be up late game planning for a semifinals tilt with second-seeded Yuma (25-1), which swept the Lions just last week at regionals.
"We're facing a great team that we've battled with before and if we win it's probably another familiar opponent in Resurrection Christian after that. I'm probably not going to get a lot of sleep. While Yuma is a great team, I do think they're a team we can beat."
In the 4A bracket, fourth-seeded Holy Family (22-5) was not as fortunate as Lyons. The Tigers lost twice on Friday and were eliminated from the tournament.
In the first match of the day, the Tigers fell 25-17, 25-18, 25-17 to ninth-seed Evergreen (24-2). In the early afternoon, they lost 25-17, 25-7, 25-21 to fifth-seeded Montrose (23-3).
Three teams from the Longmont area also had rough first days but remain alive.
Sixth-seeded Longmont (21-5) lost 25-18, 25-22, 25-21 to third-seeded Ponderosa (20-7), last year's 4A runner-up. The 11th-seeded Mead Mavericks (14-14) lost 25-15, 25-20, 25-10 to two-time defending champion Lewis-Palmer (23-3). Seeded 12th, the Silver Creek Raptors (14-14) lost 25-21, 25-7, 25-12 to top-seeded Cheyenne Mountain (25-1).
Longmont, Mead and Silver Creek will all look to finish pool play with a win on Saturday morning.