DENVER — The Lyons volleyball team might have been the least wild 'wild card' at the state championships this weekend.
Coming out of Class 2A's toughest league (the Mile High League, which featured three state qualifiers and the eventual state runners-up), the Lions were primed for Yuma in Saturday's semifinals after blazing through pool play on Friday.
But as coach Mason Johnson put it, you can't coach size, and the Indians have it rows deep. With their blocks firmly controlling play in the semifinals, Yuma advanced with a 25-19, 25-19, 25-15 sweep to end Lyons' remarkable season.
The Lions finished 23-5, its senior class leaving a legacy that Johnson figures the rest of the team will most definitely follow.
"That season to season bounceback, this program has battled through a lot these past few years," said Johnson, a first-year varsity coach whose team missed state last year. "Coming through districts and regionals is not easy ... we fought hard through some great teams and we claimed our rank.
"The wait was tough and we played a tough team, but I'm proud of the way we finished out the season."
Lyons and Yuma both got their pool games out of the way Friday, so the Lions and Indians were about as physically ready as they could be when they hit the court.
And the Indians' Tara Traphagan, a Wyoming commitment, appeared ready to feast. The senior had 16 kills in a regional matchup against Lyons last week, and she controlled the YHS attack in the first set with nine thunderous kills.
All the while, Mariya Meckelburg, Chasey Blach and Mallory Noble formed a wall. It's something that deterred Lyons last week, and it was a key factor Saturday again.
But when all was said and done, the 2A title game featured the No. 1 (Resurrection Christian) and No. 2 team (Yuma) in the state according to the rankings. Lyons was a close third, two years after their first-ever state tournament appearance.
"We know we played our hearts out and that's what matters," senior Jessica Boxrud said. "We went as far as we could and I'm happy with the end result.
"Yuma is a very good team and I applaud them for doing so well. I think we saw in film this morning that we just needed to find spots, have confidence and maintain energy. It just was too tough."
Boxrud was one of just four seniors, joining Ashlyn Christiansen, Meagan Keen and Erika Ivkov as those who helped changed the landscape for LHS. Six sophomores form the bulk of the team returning.
"In hindsight, we don't have any regrets as a team with what we did this season," Johnson said. "We gave it the best run we could have, and we put our best foot forward."