DENVER • That three Pikes Peak-area teams qualified for the 4A state semifinals was remarkable. How Coronado became the third team was epic.
It was an all-Pikes Peak area final with Cheyenne Mountain and Lewis-Palmer playing for the 4A state championship, but with Coronado joining that duo in the semis, it marked the first time since at least 2008 — and likely much longer — that the area had placed three teams into the same semifinal bracket.
“We’ve had two, I can’t ever remember having three,” Cheyenne Mountain coach David Barkley said. “But I’m not that much of a historian.”
Neither Coronado’s Don Lash nor Lewis-Palmer’s Susan Odenbaugh could remember it happening, either.
“I can’t imagine that it has,” Lash said. “Three Springs teams in the final four, that’s huge.”
For Cheyenne Mountain and Lewis-Palmer, which came into the tournament as the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds, the path to the semifinals was relatively smooth. Not only did both reach the semis without dropping a set, but neither of Lewis-Palmer’s opponents scored more than 18 points and neither of Cheyenne Mountain’s foes scored more than 16.
But for No. 6 seed Coronado, the road was much more dramatic.
In order to get to its semifinal matchup against Lewis-Palmer, Coronado had to pull off one of the most remarkable comebacks in memory in a win over Longmont.
Having dropped the first two sets, the Cougars came back to win the third but were trailing 24-16 in the fourth. The bus home was definitely getting warmed up.
Then Coronado fended off a match point. And then another. The Cougars fought off eight match points in all to tie it at 24.
“This is my 34th year (coaching volleyball) and I’ve never seen that,” Lash said. “That should not happen.”
Coronado finally took that fourth set on a service ace by Savannah Telander but not until the score had reached 33-31.
It looked as if the magic was spent, though, as Coronado went down 8-2 in the fifth set. That’s when the rotation favored the Cougars and when they pulled off yet another big comeback.
“They have one great athlete, Becca Mau,” Lash said of Longmont. “When we pinned her in the back row, we could score.
“The girls served really well. When you’ve got her back there, you have to serve tough but it’s got to be in. You can’t give them a free rotation.”
Coronado scored 13 of the final 18 points, four on kills by Serina Nickle, to win the deciding set 15-13.
And give the area three teams in the finals.