Coming in as the lowest (No. 12) seed in 3A, not much was expected from Manitou Springs. The Mustangs had a different idea, however, upsetting No. 8 Holy Family 25-20, 19-25, 24-26, 25-20, 18-16 Friday at the Denver Coliseum.
While the Mustangs were beaten by No. 1 Valley 25-9, 25-13, 25-15 later, they still have a shot, albeit slim, at a berth in the final four. If Holy Family can beat Valley 3-0 on Saturday, Manitou Springs will get a chance at a one-set playoff for a spot in the semifinals.
“This was was a huge step,” Manitou Springs coach Carol Benedict said. “These seniors had never won a league championship, they’d never been past regionals. They were just ecstatic to be this far.”
Katie McKiel led Manitou Springs with 20 kills against Holy Family and 10 against Valley. Setter Meghan McGee had a triple-double against Holy family with 42 assists, 10 kills and 13 digs.
Benedict is in her first season as coach at Manitou Springs, which hadn’t qualified for state since 2007.
“They didn’t feel like they were winners, they didn’t feel like they were worth anything,” Benedict said. “Once they started winning and they started seeing that somebody believes in us, they started seeing their potential and playing up to it.”
Doherty wins opener
The No. 1 seed in Class 5A, Doherty had little trouble dispatching No. 12 Chatfield 25-18, 25-16, 25-21 in its Friday match.
“We came in frazzled, we were excited about being at state, and then we kind of calmed down and got better,” said senior middle blocker Haleigh Washington, who will be playing for Penn State next season. “This is just a warm-up, we’re just getting there.”
Doherty made it to the semifinals in 2009 and 2010 but failed to qualify for the tournament in 2011. This year, the Spartans are the only area team to qualify in 5A.
“It’s not every year that you get to go – we didn’t make it last year,” Doherty coach Tara Hittle said. “We’re just trying top live up to our expectations for ourselves.
“It’s an honor to be at the state tournament and I think the girls know that.”
Different cast, same script
With Cheyenne Mountain having won four straight state titles, it’s easy to forget that, for many of the players, the state tournament is a new and often overwhelming experience. The Indians shook off the excitement to beat Silver Creek 25-13, 25-16, 25-16. A win over Durango on Saturday will put No. 1 seed Cheyenne Mountain in the semifinals for a chance to make it five titles in a row.
“I was really happy because we only have three starters back (from last year); they know what this feels like,” Cheyenne Mountain coach David Barkley said. “The players who were here last year, but didn’t start, came out and played well.”
Aimee Steinwand, Mara Barkley and Megan Schultz each had nine kills for Cheyenne Mountain.
“I thought overall we did a good job,” Barkley said. “We could do with reducing our number of unforced errors, there were a few too many.
“Every match after this only gets tougher, every team gets better and better and better.”
The Pikes Peak region boasted the top two seeds in 4A and both took care of business in the first round after Lewis-Palmer knocked off Mountain View 25-18, 25-14, 25-18.
“I thought, especially coming out that first set, that we were really prepared and played well,” Lewis-Palmer coach Susan Odenbaugh said.
The Rangers had a balanced attack with Nicole Montgomery (13), Alexa Smith (11) and Claire Felix (10) each recording double-digit kills.
Lions new to this arena
Coming in with the unfamiliar role as the underdog, Colorado Springs Christian experienced something equally unfamiliar with a first-round 25-20, 25-15, 25-15 loss to No. 3 seed Bayfield.
CSCS has won six state titles in the past eight years but entered the tournament as the No. 10 seed in 3A. And despite the long tradition of state titles, only two of CSCS’ players have state tournament experience and one of those, Morgan Evans, is out with a torn hamstring suffered two weeks ago.
That leaves Taylor Stephens as the only Lion playing who has experienced the bedlam that is the state tournament.
“I think they got a little intimidated going out there; I think the young ones were a little scared,” CSCS coach Jennifer Evans said. “It’s such a different venue than anything they’ve ever played in. It’s like playing a totally different sport.”
The Lions were eliminated in the second match, falling to Gunnison 25-13, 25-17, 25-23.
Coronado wins opener
Defending 4A runner-up Coronado topped Broomfield 25-20, 25-18, 19-25, 25-14 to set up a match Saturday against Longmont that will send the winner to the semifinals.