DENVER — When the season began, Prospect Ridge senior Lauryn Parker wasn’t alone in not getting her hopes up that the Miners volleyball team could reach the state tournament in 2018.
A lot has changed in the several months since then.
When the Miners surpassed all expectations and qualified for the state tournament, it didn’t just make their program’s debut at the Denver Coliseum. This particular group of Miners became the school’s first girls team ever to make it to state. On top of the historic nature of just being there, the Miners enjoyed the experience quite a bit.
“It was different from anything we’ve ever experienced before,” Parker said. “Coming from a smaller school environment, this was definitely really cool for all of us. This tournament has a really good caliber of teams and I think we played up to their level. Starting the season or even going into regionals, getting to state wasn’t something that was within the realm of us doing so it was really cool to be here, for sure.”
The Miners had a 13-10 record going into the regional round as the 26th seed. They won the Region 11 championship.
Like most teams making a first appearance at state, the Miners went 0-2. As the No. 12 seed, they lost 3-0 to No. 5 Valley in the first round on Thursday. On Friday, they were eliminated with a 25-17, 25-12, 25-14 loss to No. 3 University in the first back-door bracket game.
A win would have been nice but just being there against the odds was enough for head coach Lexee Marshall to go home pleased with her team’s effort.
“What we’re most proud of is that we’re here,” Marshall said. “We came in ranked 26th but then 12th according to the seeding here. Of course we wanted to win, as any team would, but we’re overjoyed to be here. The competition is awesome, the environment is awesome. We’re happy with it, especially with the way we ended today by playing well against a really good team.”
Defending 2A champs fight hard in unlikely return to state
The Lyons Lions won the 2017 state title but there was little certainty they would make it back to the Denver Coliseum since they only returned two players from last fall’s championship team.
But they did. And they made the most of it, battling to the brink in each of their three matches.
In a Class 2A division that was a bit tighter from top to bottom than several of the larger ones and in which all four of the first-round matches went to five sets, the 10th-seeded Lions (18-10) played two five-set matches at this year’s state tournament. They won 3-2 over No. 7 Rye in the first round, fell 3-0 to No. 2 Denver Christian in the quarterfinals and were finally eliminated with a 20-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 15-7 defeat at the hands of No. 8 Vail Mountain in their first back-door bracket match.
“Every single match we had at state was the highest level of the whole season,” Lions head coach Heather Evans said. “We’ve had good games, good matches throughout the season but we just kept getting better and better and better. It’s really hard when your best can’t win but what I like is that all we had was fire and determination and if we were going to get beaten, other teams were going to have to earn it.
“I just can’t say enough about how our girls responded to that kind of pressure and that kind of stress. It’s hard. We had a ton of freshmen and sophomores, and the rest have never played at this level or ever even been in this facility. It’s outstanding what we accomplished and we played the best volleyball we could. That’s all you can ask for.”
Longmont falls in quarters but dings Lewis-Palmer
The Longmont Trojans had, and still have, lofty goals for this state tournament.
Reaching the quarterfinals on Friday, the No. 4-seed Trojans fell 25-18, 25-12, 20-25, 25-12 to defending Class 4A state champion and No. 1 seed Lewis-Palmer. They didn’t advance cleanly but under the new double-elimination format, the Trojans remain alive and will play for another shot at the semifinals at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.
When they take the court on Saturday, the Trojans will also do so knowing they are the only 4A team this season to win a set against the vaunted Rangers so far.
Silver Creek’s underdog run comes to an end in 4A
The Silver Creek Raptors were another unlikely team to grab a state tournament berth out of regionals but still managed to do so.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, their incredible run came to an early end in the Class 4A bracket on Friday. After a 3-0 loss to Holy Family in the first round on Thursday, the 10th-seeded Raptors went down 21-25, 29-27, 25-17, 28-26 in the first back-door round against No. 9 Ponderosa on Friday.
Mead clings to life late
After winning their regional in dramatic fashion, the Mead Mavericks had a rough-and-perhaps surprising start to the state tournament in getting swept by Tri-Valley League foe Berthoud on Thursday.
Friday played out much, much better and as of press time MHS was still clinging to life. The Mavericks had no issues defeating perennial power Cheyenne Mountain 3-1 (25-8, 27-29, 25-16, 25-23) in a morning back-door game and had to wait hours and hours to get back on the court to battle No. 2 Discovery Canyon. At press time, the teams were tied at one set apiece in the last game going at the Coliseum.