No. 2 Rampart 3, No. 7 Legend 0
For nearly 20 months, the Rampart girls’ volleyball team has had one thing on its mind: state.
The Rams had the confidence and the talent. They just needed a chance to prove it.
Wednesday No. 2 Rampart took step one in a 5A first-round sweep of No. 7 Legend, 25-17, 25-15, 25-20.
Rampart moves on to the state semifinal to play No. 3 Ralston Valley at 11 a.m. Thursday. The Mustangs defeated No. 6 Chatfield 3-0 in the first round.
“We are playing our best volleyball of the year and that’s all we can really ask for,” Rampart coach Nikki Bloemen said. “That's what we talked about back in March, getting better every practice, getting better every match. And this was our best match that we’ve played all year, so now we can set the goal tomorrow to play even better.”
Rampart’s comfort and confidence was apparent on the court, even when Legend challenged the Rams late in the third set. Rampart was just four points away from clinching the third set when the Titans went on a six-point run to cut the deficit, and continued to pressure, scoring nine of the last 12 points.
“Our composure was huge,” said Bloemen, who praised her team’s comfort despite the new environment and challenge. “We have a freshman setter (Izzy Starck) who just went in and did her job. Everyone went in and did their job, and it’s like they’ve been here before when half of our team hasn’t been here before.”
Riley Simpson led Rampart with 13 kills and Anjelina Starck had 12. Izzy Starck had a team-high three blocks and 27 assists.
No. 6 Palmer Ridge 3, No. 3 Palisade 0
The Palmer Ridge volleyball team walked into the Broadmoor World Arena with something to prove. The No. 6 Bears were ranked No. 1 in 4A before suffering five-straight losses to end the regular season, including a loss in five sets to No. 2 Cheyenne Mountain.
But the Bears knew they’d have another chance.
“We said in the huddle after the Cheyenne Mountain game, ‘We will see them at state,’” Palmer Ridge coach Erica Bradley said.
Wednesday, Palmer Ridge earned a shot at redemption in a crushing first-round victory over No. 3 Palisade in three sets, 25-17, 25-9, 25-14 to face Cheyenne Mountain in the state semifinal at 11 a.m. Thursday.
“Cheyenne Mountain is going to be a really competitive, tough team, and I think we are excited for the challenge,” Bradley said. "That is what state is all about, the buildup to these kinds of games.”
Bradley and the Bears knew they were better than their record, and the No. 6 seed, but juggling lineups and end-of-season struggles forced Palmer Ridge to adapt a new mindset entering the postseason.
“I think they started focusing on being unified as a team,” Bradley said. “Struggling together and winning together.”
Four Palmer Ridge seniors remember the sting of defeat in a five-set loss to rival Lewis-Palmer in the 2019 4A championship, and Bradley said her team is hungry for another chance.
“This is just one of the three games to get to that end goal, and the biggest challenge is still ahead,” Bradley said. “But I think we are going to play a lot better volleyball tomorrow (against Cheyenne Mountain).”
Palmer Ridge kicked off the first set with a few sloppy errors, but quickly rebounded and went on an eight-point run to rack up a comfortable lead in the first set — and ran from there.
Senior Riley Anderson stole the show on the outside with powerful kills, finishing with 11 kills. Elaina Della Rossa had six aces while Ryann Blankenship and Matilyn Davis had four each. Madison Wilson, who went down in the third set with an ankle injury, had five blocks and seven kills.
No. 2 Cheyenne Mountain 3, No. 7 Discovery Canyon 0
Cheyenne Mountain earned a spot in the 4A state semifinal with a first-round sweep of familiar foe, Discovery Canyon, 25-17, 25-19, 25-15.
It’s been nearly two months since Cheyenne Mountain and Discovery Canyon went to five sets in the season opener, and it was evident to Cheyenne Mountain coach Ellen Senf how far her team has come since its first win.
“Especially after seeing them the first game of the season, we have made so many strides and we could tell,” Senf said. “We made a lot of strides in our back-row defense with a couple of adjustments there, and if we continue to just spread our offense that’s the key to success.”
Discovery Canyon took the lead twice in the third set in an attempt to avoid the sweep, but momentum wavered before the Thunder could gain a comfortable lead. Discovery Canyon finishes the season 10-4.
Cheyenne Mountain moves on to the state semifinal on Thursday against No. 6 Palmer Ridge, which defeated No. 3 Palisade in straight sets. Cheyenne Mountain took down Palmer Ridge in five sets earlier this year, and Senf said she expected to see the Bears in the state semifinal.
Second-seeded Cheyenne Mountain is in the hunt for the program’s seventh state championship and first since 2015.
“We felt awesome coming into this tournament,” Senf said. “We had a really good finish at regionals and played extremely well. We finished the season on the up and up. It’s definitely a challenge but we just have to get it done.”
No. 1 Windsor 3, No. 8 The Classical Academy 0
The Classical Academy had an uphill climb facing the No. 1 seed in the opening round of the state tournament, but TCA hadn’t lost a match since mid-March, and wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
The No. 8 Titans went toe-to-toe with Windsor, pushing the first set into extra points before falling 26-24. TCA fell into a five-point deficit late in the second set, but rebounded to tie the game at 22 before the Wizards clinched a 25-22 win to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
Another valiant effort in the third set fell short 25-20 as TCA’s season came to an end, finishing with a 14-2 record — the program’s best winning percentage since 2008.
Windsor moves on to the Final Four to face No. 5 Mead.
No. 5 Mead 3, No. 4 Coronado 1
Coronado opened the 4A state tournament with a commanding 25-16 win in the first set, but Mead rebounded quickly to claim the following sets, 25-18, 25-18 before clinching a 25-16 win in Set 4 for a spot in the state semifinals.
The No. 5 Mavericks will move on to face No. 1 Windsor in the Final Four on Thursday.
The Mavericks handed No. 4 Coronado its first loss following the program’s first undefeated regular-season campaign since at least 2007.