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CHSAA volleyball playoffs: Discovery Canyon earns 1st state berth, Lewis-Palmer aims to repeat

November 6, 2017 Updated: November 6, 2017 at 10:18 pm
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photo - The Lewis-Palmer Rangers defeated the Legend Titans in 3 straight sets in girls' volleyball on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 at Lewis-Palmer High School. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing
The Lewis-Palmer Rangers defeated the Legend Titans in 3 straight sets in girls' volleyball on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 at Lewis-Palmer High School. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing 

This weekend five area teams will battle in the 2017 CHSAA volleyball playoffs, starting with pool play on Friday with hopes to advance to the semifinal and state title games on Saturday at the Denver Coliseum.

Coronado is the lone Pikes Peak region team in 5A, while Lewis-Palmer, Palmer Ridge, Cheyenne Mountain and Discovery Canyon will battle in the 4A bracket.

Discovery Canyon travels to states for first time in program history

Seeded ninth, Discovery Canyon enters the state tournament confident after a thrilling upset over Windsor for the Region 7 championship and punch their ticket to the program’s first-ever state berth.

“Since it’s our first time qualifying for state we are kind of flying under the radar,” Discover Canyon coach Melissa Bravo said after Discovery Canyon’s win at regionals. “We’ve played some really great games this season, and some games haven’t been our best, but I keep telling these girls, ‘Any given Saturday,’ and at the end of the day it’s just volleyball.”

The Discovery Canyon volleyball program was established in 2007, and had just one win at regionals in three appearances prior to 2017.

The Thunder take on No. 4 Niwot in the first round of pool play Friday at 8 a.m. - a tough draw for their first-ever postseason action. The Cougars are 20-5 and won the 4A Northern Volleyball league, but as Discovery Canyon learned playing in the toughest volleyball conference in the state, it’s not the name on their opponents uniform, but the action on the court.

“We are so lucky to play in our conference, but when we step on the court we are focused on coming in and playing. We don’t think about who we are playing, we just have to come into those matches with fire,” Bravo said.

Discovery Canyon is one of just five teams to have won a set against reigning 4A state champion Lewis-Palmer in the regular season, which Bravo credits to her team’s fire on the court against the Rangers.

Discovery Canyon is led by junior Ashten Prechtel who leads the team in kills, aces and total blocks. She has 230 kills, 59 aces and 98 total blocks - 95 solo - on the season. Sophomore Leah Lester follows with 202 kills and 58 aces.

With just two seniors, the Thunder is relatively young, but according to Bravo, that youthful core refocused the team in the region title game last week.

“We weren’t hitting the court very well, but in that third set we huddled together and we said we wanted to play our best volleyball,” Bravo said. “So we made a few changes to the lineup and we put freshman Paityn Kramer in and she really got the energy going. From there we were finding ourselves and really came together and played it one point at a time. I’m really proud of the girls for playing every point and making that growth.”

Discovery Canyon will meet a familiar foe No. 5 Palmer Ridge on Day 2 of pool play, Saturday morning. During the regular season Discovery Canyon fell to Palmer Ridge 3-1.

CLASS 4A POOL PLAY

Lewis-Palmer

The reigning 4A state champions Lewis-Palmer enter the state tournament as the top-ranked squad, playing in Pool 1 against No. 8 Roosevelt and No. 12 Mullen.

The Rangers (25-0) are led by Taylor Buckley, who has 183 kills on the season, followed by Kessandra Krutsinger with 145 kills. Krutsinger also leads the team with 75 total blocks, including 26 solo. Behind the service line Giana Bartalo leads with 48 aces.

Lewis-Palmer is in the middle of a 55-match winning streak dating back to the 2015 state championship game.

Palmer Ridge

Palmer Ridge enters the tournament at No. 5 battling 4A/5A Pikes Peak league foe Discovery Canyon and No. 4 Niwot.

The Bears (23-2) are led by a pair of freshman phenoms, Mac Russ and Riley Simpson who have 251 and 215 kills on the season, respectively. Simpson also leads the team with 42 aces, while Russ is the team’s blocking leader with 57 solo blocks.

Cheyenne Mountain

Despite an uncharacteristic regular season, finishing 8-14, the Indians battled to a Region 11 victory for another state tournament berth. Cheyenne Mountain will play No. 2 Valor Christian and No. 7 Pueblo West in Pool 2.

Kinley Coe leads the Indians with 247 kills, while her sister Kaelin leads in aces with 62.

CLASS 5A POOL PLAY

Coronado

The Coronado volleyball team is likely to make a splash in the 5A bracket after a stellar regular season to claim the 5A Colorado Springs Metro league title. Ranked No. 6 heading into pool play the Cougars are 22-3 on the season fresh off an easy Region 6 sweep.

Coronado will take on No 3 Castle View and No. 10 Rock Canyon, split between Friday and Saturday.

The Cougars were riding an impressive 14-game winning streak heading into the last game of the regular season before falling to Palmer Ridge in five sets.

Jaelyn Hershberger leads Coronado with 207 kills, followed by Mara Abernethy with 186. Abernethy leads the team in total blocks with 60, while Lacey Redinger is the top Cougar behind the service line with 56 aces.

CLASS 4A POOL PLAY

Friday

No. 4 Niwot vs. No. 9 Discovery Canyon

No. 1 Lewis-Palmer vs. No. 12 Mullen

No. 2 Valor Christian vs. No. 11 Cheyenne Mountain

No. 3 Holy Family vs. No. 10 Ponderosa

No. 4 Niwot vs. No. 5 Palmer Ridge

No. 1 Lewis-Palmer vs. No. 8 Roosevelt

No. 2 Valor Christian vs. No. 7 Pueblo West

No. 3 Holy Family vs. No. 6 De’Evelyn

Saturday

No. 5 Palmer Ridge vs. No. 9 Discovery Canyon

No. 8 Roosevelt vs. No. 12 Mullen

No. 7 Pueblo West vs. No. 11 Cheyenne Mountain

No. 6 De’Evelyn vs. No. 10 Ponderosa

CLASS 5A POOL PLAY

Friday

No. 14 Chaparral vs. No. 9 Fort Collins

No. 1 Mountain Vista vs. No. 12 Cherry Creek

No. 2 Fossil Ridge vs. No. 11 Denver East

No. 3 Castle Ridge vs. No. 10 Rock Canyon

No. 4 Chaparral vs. No. 5 Fruita Monument

No. 1 Mountain Vista vs. No. 8 Rocky Mountain

No. 2 Fossil Ridge vs. No. 7 Chatfield

No. 3 Castle View vs. No. 6 Coronado

Saturday

No. 5 Fruita Monument vs. No. 9 Fort Collins

No. 8 Rocky Mountain vs. No. 12 Cherry Creek

No. 7 Chatfield vs. No. 11 Denver East

No. 6 Coronado vs. No. 10 Rock Canyon

Pool play kicks off at 8 a.m. on Friday, and semifinals begin immediately following pool play on Saturday, with the state title games beginning at 7 p.m.

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