Volleyball: Manitou Springs powers through first match; CSS eliminated

By Justin Shaw preps@gazette.com - Published: November 8, 2013 | 8:10 pm 0

Manitou Springs did what it has done all season Friday afternoon at the Denver Coliseum - win.

The Mustangs showed the form which earned them a 25-0 regular-season record in a 3-0 win over Sterling in the opening match of the 3A state volleyball tournament, but that hasn't satisfied them.

"We're happy we played well and got the first-match jitters out of the way, but we know our energy level could be higher and our goal is to make a few less mistakes tomorrow," Manitou Springs coach Carol Benedict said.

"Our expectation was not just to get here, and we know we're one of the best teams in this classification, so anything less than making it to the championship match would be a disappointment."

The bar is set high for good reason. The Mustangs are having the best season in school history and are looking to prove they're the cream of the 3A crop after receiving the No. 3 seed in the tournament.

"We're looking forward to tomorrow, but we aren't satisfied yet," said Manitou sophomore Katie McKiel, who led the team with 13 kills. "Being the three seed has been motivating for us and it's just another thing to push us to go farther."

Manitou was a bit slow to start the match, but got stronger as it went on. McKiel said the squad got all the nerves out and is ready to make a run at a state title Saturday. The Mustangs play Gunnison in the morning. A win puts them into the semifinals.

"We're very excited; we were a little off at first but we adjusted to our surroundings and played a pretty good match and tomorrow should be better," McKiel said.

On the 2A side, the lone area team - Colorado Springs School (23-4) - put up quite a fight on Friday, but came up short in losses to No. 2 Lutheran and No. 7 Lyons.

The 11th-seeded Kodiaks fell 3-1 to defending state champion Lutheran and lost a hard-fought match 3-2 to Lyons. Nonetheless, coach Kyong Lee was pleased with her team.

"We're very proud of our accomplishments; it was our goal all season to make it to state after losing in regionals last year," Lee said. "This was a terrific experience for us. We have a very young team and got a lot of production from our freshmen, so we're excited about the future."

The Kodiaks had three seniors on the roster this season which helped build the program to this point. Senior Kendra Baucom had a large smile on her face after her last high school match.

"This team did so well this year and everyone was such a big part of our success," she said. "I'm very happy that we are leaving the team in good hands, and these girls will be back to state and I'll be here to watch them win."

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