DENVER — If not for an unlucky matchup with eventual 2017 state champion Lyons in the regional round last fall, the Dawson volleyball team had an excellent chance to make it to state.
The Mustangs finished with 17 wins and it was the first time in the history of their program that Dawson finished as regional runner-up, but it wasn't enough.
State was the goal. Not making the Class 2A state tournament cut hurt even worse when Wiggins, a team the Mustangs defeated at that same regional tournament, got in based on its RPI score.
State is still the goal, and remains as attainable as last season.
On Tuesday night, the Mustangs took a 3-1 loss to No. 3-ranked Denver Christian on the road in Denver. The loss certainly won't hurt their RPI score and going toe-to-toe with one of the premier teams in the state showed their quality. Yet after coming so close to state last season, the Mustangs aren't taking losses like Tuesday's lightly.
"It would be a huge win for us to get to state this year," Mustangs head coach Carisa Kessler said. "I don't believe our RPI is going to help us out in any way so right now we're really pushing hard to win and get a better seed for regionals. Going forward into districts, this is typically when we do our best so we'll just keep pushing."
With the win, the Denver Christian Thunder (17-1, 11-0) locked up the 2A/1A Mile High League championship. Denver Christian entered as the No. 5 team in the 2A RPI standings while the Mustangs (13-4, 7-3) entered as the No. 17 team, so both teams were comfortably within the 36-team cutoff for postseason qualifying.
Making a bid for a big-time upset, the Mustangs took the first set, 25-19. It was just the second set the Thunder had lost all year and the first since dropping a single set to Byers on Sept. 4.
But after the first set, the Mustangs' serve-receive weakened and the Thunder ran away with a 19-25, 25-12, 25-18, 25-13 victory.
"We didn't play great overall but they are a good team," Kessler said. "It's mostly frustrating that we let ourselves give up those runs. They are a good serving team but at the net, I like our chances. We just couldn't get there today because we lost the momentum and, as a result, the match."
Beginning with a 2014 season in which Dawson went 3-17, the Mustangs have improved their wins total by four or more in each of the past three seasons. Dawson will play at Twin Peaks Charter Academy on Thursday and will wrap up the regular season on the road against union Colony Prep on Friday.
Denver Christian 3, Dawson School 1
At Denver Christian SchoolDawson (13-4, 7-3) 25121813Denver Christian (17-1, 11-0) 19252525
Kills — Dawson: Porrey 19, Jurika 6, Javes 4, Mesko-Eby 4,Parrish 3, Sala; Denver Christian: Bogner 23, Kaemingk 14, Bol 3, Peters 3, Bennett 2, Haman, Mitchell.
Blocks — Denver Christian: Bogner 6, Bennett, Bol.
Assists — Dawson: Sala 37; Denver Christian: Peters 31, Haman 15.
Aces — Javes 2, Sala; Denver Christian: Peters 9, Kaemingk 4, Mitchell 2, Bol, Bogner, Haman.
Digs — Dawson: Scribner 26, Sala 15, Porrey 15, Mesko-Eby 12, Parrish 3, Jurika 3, Javes 2; Denver Christian: Mitchell 19, Kaemingk 15, Bennett 14, Peters 10, Haman 9, Bogner 2, Bol 2.