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Volleyball: Three teams to play in state tournament this week

Mead makes return trip; Broomfield, Erie return for first time in awhile

Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer
Mead High School’s Lauren Steidl stops a serve during a game against Frederick on Tuesday in Longmont.

The three local schools that hosted a regional tournament all won a pair of games over the weekend and qualified for the state volleyball tournament, which takes place this week at the Denver Coliseum.

In Class 4A, the Mead Mavericks return to the state tournament, this time led by first-year head coach Mikayla Martinez. Mead won in straight sets over Cañon City and Air Academy on Friday. This marks their second-straight season the team has made it to state.

For the other two teams heading there, they end long droughts of playing in the state tournament.

The Broomfield Eagles will play in the Class 5A bracket after winning the 5A Region 5 title at their school on Saturday with wins over Rangeview and Heritage. This will be their first trip to the state tournament since 2009.

An even longer state drought was halted by the Erie Tigers, who won the 4A Region 10 tournament and will join Mead in the Class 4A state tournament. This will be Erie’s first state tournament appearance in 25 years.

On Monday, the Colorado High School Activities Association released the state brackets for all five classifications that will be played this week. This will be the second straight year the state tournament will use an Olympic style bracket instead of pool play to determine the four teams in the semifinalists. First and second round matches will kickoff the tournament on Thursday, followed by two quarterfinal matches and the start of the playback bracket on Friday. The final rounds of the playback bracket to determine two semifinalists will wrap up Saturday, and the semifinals and championship matches will be played that same evening. All games will be played at the Denver Coliseum.

Broomfield's Hope Hanak-Harper (5) goes up ...
Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com
Broomfield’s Hope Hanak-Harper (5) goes up to hit the ball at the net with a pair of Heritage defenders in the 5A Region 5 tournament at Broomfield High School on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019.

Broomfield Eagles

In terms of wins and losses, Broomfield has the highest win percentage (96 percent) and is the only one-loss team in the bracket in Class 5A. With a 24-1 record and a regional title won at home last week, the Eagles will be the No. 5 seed and be the first local team to hit the floor at state around 9:30 a.m. versus the Highlands Ranch Falcons (13-12).

A big reason for the turnaround this year is thanks to a large senior class that has stepped up in the leadership role and with their play on the court. Three of the top five players in kills are seniors and the team leaders are Vicki Fankell with 273 and Hope Hanak-Harper with 247. They also block well at the net with their height at 131 total blocks, led by 67 from Cailyn Gasser.

Highlands Ranch went on the road as the lowest seed (No. 28) in the 5A Region 9 tournament at Windsor and upset both the No. 7 seed Windsor and No. 16 seed Horizon 3-1 to steal a bid for state. Cassie Davis was dominant for the Falcons with 56 total kills and enters the week with the most kills by a player in Colorado with 518. While stopping Davis will be a key, Broomfield must watch out for Libby Borgerding, the senior libero who had 69 digs at regionals and is 22nd in the state of Colorado with 458 total.

The winner of the first-round game Thursday morning will return to the court around 3:30 p.m. to face the No. 4 seed Valor Christian Eagles (22-2), who have a dangerous hitter themselves in Anna Davis (339 kills).

Mead Mavericks

Thanks to a 22-3 record and a pair of sweeps at regionals, the Mead Mavericks were seeded No. 4 in the Class 4A bracket and earned a first-round bye. Therefore, the Mavericks will only hit the floor once Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in the second round with either the No. 5 seed Coronado (17-8) or the No. 12 seed D’Evelyn (17-8), who play each other in the first round Thursday morning.

Balance has fueled Mead’s success both offensively and defensively this year. Three players have 174 or more kills on offense and five players have 100 or more digs defensively. Quincey Coyle leads the team with 274 kills and is second in digs with 214. Another area the team can hurt you is with serves as they have 245 aces, and six players have at least 20 on the season. Morgan Munro is the top player with 65 in that category.

Regardless of their opponent, Mead will be tasked with slowing down their opponent’s offense in the second round. D’Evelyn is led by Sophia Hoffman with 343 kills – she is tied for 17th in all of Colorado in that category – and has three other teammates with triple-digit kills. Coronado also has four players in triple digits with kills and are led by Maycie Rodgers with 282 and Stacia Smith with 164.

Erie High School's Jess Amend (No. ...
Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
Erie High School’s Jess Amend (No. 5) tries to keep the ball in plays in the game against Discovery Canyon High School on Aug. 28, 2019.

Erie Tigers

Erie’s first trip to the state tournament in 25 years will see them seeded No. 7 in the 12-team bracket. In the first round, the Tigers (18-7) will face the No. 10 seed Cheyenne Mountain Indians (15-10) around 12:30 p.m.

A balance of veteran leaders and newcomers helped Erie get over the hump at regionals with 3-0 wins over Lincoln and Palisade. Sophomore Maggie Olson led the offense at regionals with just 20 kills because the Tigers have a balanced attack they like to utilize. A big reason for that is setter Jess Amend, the state leader in assists with 959.

On the other side of the net is another balanced offensive attack with Cheyenne Mountain. The Indians have five players with 100 or more kills, but the two who draw the most attention are Karlee Pinell (250) and Emma Delich (189). And while Erie has had a long absence from the state tournament, Cheyenne Mountain is a regular there and has won six state titles since 2008, the last one coming four years ago.

If Erie can get past Cheyenne Mountain, they will play the nightcap on day one Thursday against the No. 2 seed Montrose Indians (20-5). Despite nearly losing a tiebreaker at home in its regional tournament, Montrose is loaded with six seniors and a large sophomore class who look to lead the way. They are one of the best defensive teams in the bracket with 1,428 digs on the season.

The game with Montrose in the second round would start around 6:30 p.m.