Lewis-Palmer returned to the 4A tournament three-time defending champions, but while the Rangers’ match scores from the second round and quarterfinals might suggest ‘it’s the same old Lewis-Palmer’ coach Wade Baxter knows otherwise.
“We’re really excited to be back in semis,” Baxter said after the No. 3 Rangers defeated No. 2 Montrose 3-0 in the 4A quarterfinals. “I know a lot of people on the outside (expect it) but we really only have one player who has played here a lot. Everybody else it is new to them for the most part.”
That one player, senior libero Gianna Bartalo, hit a career milestone during the third set of Friday’s quarterfinal match, hitting the 200th ace of her career, which sparked a 13-point run for the Rangers that, according to Baxter, was unlike anything the team had seen this season.
“It was a big energy boost for the whole team, and luckily I was able to keep those serves in even after all of those emotions (of hitting my 200th), but I think the whole team was really fired up,” Bartalo said. “Anytime we have that much energy coming from the crowd we know we are going to play better.”
Senior Peyton Burnett said the team kept the milestone a secret from Bartalo, and made a sign for her when she hit her 200th.
“I had no idea, it kind of freaked me out when everyone started screaming at me,” Bartalo said.
The Rangers will play in their eighth straight 4A semifinal at 2 p.m. Saturday against either No. 2 Montrose or No. 10 Cheyenne Mountain. The qualifying game will be played a 8 a.m. Saturday.
Regardless of their opponent, Lewis-Palmer players say they believe there is something to prove.
“I think there is a little bit more motivation as well as ‘business as usual,’” Bartalo said, “because I think we really want to prove to everyone after having such a hard schedule and having to battle through 5A and nonconference teams that we really are actually worthy of that No. 1 (seed).”
Rampart began its journey in the 5A state tournament with a sweep of No. 11 Mountain Vista on Thursday before falling to third-seeded Legend 3-0. But Friday, the No. 6 Rams defeated No. 5 Broomfield 3-1 before sweeping No. 2 Cherokee Trail in a big upset to stay alive in the tournament. The Rams will start their Saturday with a matchup against No. 4 Valor Christian.
Upsets keep rolling for Palmer Ridge
Palmer Ridge is heading to the state semifinals after defeating lower seeds in each round of the playoffs.
The Bears defeated No. 8 Discovery Canyon (3-1), followed by a victory over No. 1 Pueblo County (3-2) in the second round.
Palmer Ridge continued its run Friday with a 3-1 win over No. 5 Coronado in the quarterfinals.
The Bears earned a 25-14 win in the first set before Coronado responded with a 25-20 win in the second. Another battle ensued in the third with the Bears eking out a 25-22 win before a dominant 25-12 performance to advance to the semifinals for the first time in program history.
Palmer Ridge will play either Cheyenne Mountain or Montrose in the semifinal at noon. The qualifying match between Cheyenne Mountain and Montrose will play at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Coronado will play in a semifinal qualifying game Saturday morning against the winner of No. 8 Discovery Canyon vs. No. 12 D’Evelyn. The winner of the qualifying match will face No. 3 Lewis-Palmer in the semifinal.
Cheyenne Mountain still alive in bracket
After a first-round loss to No. 7 Erie on Thursday, No. 10 Cheyenne Mountain has battled through the contenders bracket and Saturday has a chance to play in the state semifinal against 4A/5A PPAC foe Palmer Ridge.
The Indians upset No. 1 Pueblo County 3-1 Friday morning before sweeping No. 11 Thomas Jefferson. Cheyenne Mountain will play No. 2 Montrose Saturday morning.
Discovery Canyon rebounds from loss
Discovery Canyon was defeated by Palmer Ridge on Friday, but rebounded with a sweep of No. 7 Erie in the first round of the contenders bracket. The Thunder’s season ended in a battle with No. 12 D’Evelyn, eventually losing 23-25, 25-21, 16-25, 25-22, 16-14.
Colorado Springs Christian faced a familiar foe Friday, taking on No. 1 Lutheran in the 3A quarterfinals for a rematch of last year’s state title game in which the Lions lost 3-1.
The No. 5 Lions, which had beaten No. 12 Bayfield and No. 4 Faith Christian 3-0 on Thursday, rebounded from a dreary first set to force a five-set battle against the defending champions, but ultimately fell 15-13 in the final set.
“The first set was just getting a few nerves out,” said CSCS coach Lori Currier of their 25-12 first-set loss to Lutheran.
“But we just said we need to play free and not have last year in their minds and they came out ready to go in the second set. I think after that turning point we played great.”
Currier said she feels her team should come out of the match confident moving forward. Lutheran, which remains undefeated, had lost just seven sets entering the state quarterfinals.
“It gives me confidence, I just hope it translates to them,” Currier said. “I feel like we have played them the best of what I have seen of any team this season, and if we can do that I feel like we have a great shot tomorrow and they just need to be ready and play like that again.”
CSCS will play either No. 10 Eaton or Bayfield at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the contenders bracket.
Fountain Valley’s run in the state volleyball tournament came to an end Friday with a 3-1 loss to No. 6 Simla in the first round of the contenders bracket.
The No. 12 Danes forced a fourth set with a 25-22 win, extending their season briefly, but fell 25-21 in the fourth set.
Fountain Valley fell to No. 5 Wiggins in its first match Thursday. The Danes’ conclude the season 17-6.