Volleyball: First-time regional host Erie eager for chance at state

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
The Erie volleyball team (with teammates Hannah Kurz, left, and Sydney Crites, right, seen here in grey) earned the right to host a Class 4A regional tournament for the first time by virtue of No. 7 final ratings percentage index (RPI). They host Silver Creek and Abraham Lincoln on Friday afternoon.

Heading into this past Saturday’s end to the prep volleyball regular season, the Erie Tigers were on the cusp of earning a chance to host a Class 4A regional tournament for the first time ever.

Playing 4A Western Slope contender Eagle Valley and 3A Tri-Peaks power Colorado Springs Christian in a regionally-formatted tournament, it might not have even been necessary to win the matches for that to happen.

Yet the Tigers flexed their muscles, won both matches to finish 15-8 and were heavily rewarded when the CHSAA released the regional pairings for all classifications on Sunday.

In a true testament to the growth and sustainability of the sport in the area, Erie was one of five area 4A teams given the nod as host sites. Joining the Tigers is the Tri-Valley League’s Mead and Holy Family as well as the Northern League’s Niwot and Longmont.

“I think the way we set up our schedule really set us up to be successful, and we did that intentionally while being thankful with the Tri-Valley League that we get to play the level of teams that we do,” Erie head coach Molly Creek said on Wednesday. “We’ve continued to focus on our side of the court well, maybe just one or two things from each team that we play that we can pick apart. That’s the way we’ve been playing all season.”

Both the Northern and Tri-Valley leagues featured some outstanding competition, and another Northern team — Silver Creek — will be heading to Erie for Friday’s afternoon regional (action begins at 2 p.m.). The TVL, in particular, was one of the highest-rated leagues in the state and included 5A Windsor, another host site in the big-school ranks.

The past three years have seen Erie reach regionals, but it has not been able to get out of the round, having come within one game back in 2015 (lost to Silver Creek in a one-set tiebreaker). Last year, the Tigers went 1-1 at Palmer Ridge but the state seed went to the Bears.

This year, with what hopes to be a good home crowd, the Tigers have lofty goals of reaching state in Creek’s second year as coach. And, it’s a large group of seniors who are hoping keeps the train rolling.

Only the 12 regional winners advance to the state tournament, which will take place Nov. 8-10 at the Denver Coliseum.

“We have seven returning seniors, one returning junior and then two transfer juniors … it’s been a special senior class that has played together for a really long time and have overcome some obstacles,” said Creek, whose team will also face Abraham Lincoln in Region 7. “The loss last year really fueled their fire coming into this year. They’re passionate and excited for the opportunity they have on Friday.”

Niwot, Longmont and Holy Family each hosted regionals last year, and Mead is ending a rather long drought itself. The Mavericks opted to play on Saturday, while the other three will go on Friday.

For teams in other classifications, road trips are on the docket.

In 4A, that includes yet another TVL team in Frederick, who will make a trip to Discovery Canyon for Region 2 play. The Warriors had a winning record for the first time since 2013, going 14-9 with second-year coach Suzanne Robison leading the way.

In 5A, Monarch, Broomfield and Legacy all made the top-36 for RPI, sneaking in as middle-of-the-standings teams out of the Front Range League. On Saturday, Monarch travels to Cherokee Trail, Broomfield ventures to Valor Christian and Legacy heads north to the aforementioned Windsor.

Class 2A defending champion Lyons is still alive and will have to travel to Hoehne and win twice to get a chance to repeat. Dawson School will pack the buses for Vail Mountain School for Region 8 play.

Finally, in Class 3A, Prospect Ridge Academy hopes to gain its first-ever state berth in just its third year as a CHSAA-sanctioned team. The Miners play in the Middle Park regional either Friday or Saturday.

Adam Dunivan: or

State volleyball regional pairings

Local teams only

Class 5A

Region 2 (Saturday at Cherokee Trail HS)

(2) Cherokee Trail vs. (35) Monarch, 9 a.m.

(23) Highlands Ranch vs. (35) Monarch, following first match

(2) Cherokee Trail vs. (23) Highlands Ranch, following second match

Region 3 (Saturday at Valor Christian HS)

(3) Valor Christian vs. (34) Broomfield, 10 a.m.

(22) Prairie View vs. (34) Broomfield, following first match

(3) Valor Christian vs. (22) Prairie View, following second match

Region 4 (Saturday at Windsor HS)

(4) Windsor vs. (33) Legacy, 10 a.m.

(21) Bear Creek vs. (33) Legacy, following first match

(4) Valor Christian vs. (21) Bear Creek, following second match

Class 4A

Region 2 (Saturday at Discovery Canyon HS)

(2) Discovery Canyon vs. (35) Golden, 9:30 a.m.

(23) Frederick vs. (35) Golden, following first match

(2) Discovery Canyon vs. (23) Frederick, following second match

Region 3 (Friday at Niwot HS)

(3) Niwot vs. (34) Mullen, 2 p.m.

(22) Thomas Jefferson vs. (34) Mullen, following first match

(3) Niwot vs. (22) Thomas Jefferson, following second match

Region 4 (Friday at Longmont HS)

(4) Longmont vs. (33) Conifer, 10:30 a.m.

(21) Montrose vs. (33) Conifer, following first match

(4) Longmont vs. (21) Montrose, following second match

Region 5 (Saturday at Mead HS)

(5) Mead vs. (32) Coronado, 10 a.m.

(20) Air Academy vs. (32) Coronado, following first match

(5) Mead vs. (20) Air Academy, following second match

Region 7 (Friday at Erie HS)

(7) Erie vs. (30) Abraham Lincoln, 2 p.m.

(18) Silver Creek vs. (30) Abraham Lincoln, following first match

(7) Erie vs. (18) Silver Creek, following second match

Region 8 (Friday at Holy Family HS)

(8) Holy Family vs. (29) D’Evelyn, 1:30 p.m.

(17) Pueblo West vs. (29) D’Evelyn, following first match

(8) Holy Family vs. (17) Pueblo West, following second match

Class 3A

Region 11 (TBD at Middle Park HS)

(11) Middle Park vs. (26) Prospect Ridge Academy

(14) Englewood vs. (26) Eagle Ridge Academy

(11) Middle Park vs. (14) Englewood

Class 2A

Region 8 (Saturday at Vail Mountain School)

(8) Vail Mountain vs. (29) Sedgwick County, 11 a.m.

(17) Dawson School vs. (29) Sedgwick County, following first match

(8) Vail Mountain vs. (17) Dawson School, following second match

Region 10 (Saturday at Hoehne HS)

(10) Hoehne vs. (27) Plateau Valley, 3 p.m.

(15) Lyons vs. (27) Plateau Valley, following first match

(10) Hoehne vs. (15) Lyons, following second match