It’s been a season to remember for Montezuma-Cortez volleyball, but in the eyes of their senior leaders, the campaign is just beginning. Coming off an unbeaten regular season, the Panthers aim to keep their magical run going in the 3A regionals. M-CHS skyrocketed up the polls throughout the season, and enters this weekend’s postseason tournament as the No. 2 seed.
Meanwhile, Dove Creek and Dolores, the top two finishers in the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League, ride in to the 1A and 2A regional tournaments with momentum, carrying hopes of making deep runs into the postseason.
Panthers set sights on stateThere’s been a buzz around M-CHS volleyball all season. Ever since the Panthers upended league favorites Bayfield and Alamosa in the early part of the season, head coach Joye McHenry’s squad have turned heads across the Centennial State.
You couldn’t find the Panthers ranked in any poll to begin the season, but after the Panthers capped a perfect regular season, they now sit atop the 3A RPI rankings, and are No. 4 in the CHSAA coaches’ poll.
Veteran leadership has been pivotal for the Panthers (12-0, 8-0 3A IML), led by senior front line standouts Myka Glover and Devon McHenry, who along with junior Avery Wright, provide one of the most feared attacking fronts in the state. The trio amassed over 400 combined kills – the vast majority assisted by junior setter Adezdiin Boeckman – as the Panthers overpowered opponents, only dropping seven sets all season.
Senior Grace Olsen spearheaded a strong defensive effort, leading the team in blocks, while senior libero Amber Wood paced the team in digs.
They enter the tournament as regional hosts in a 3A tournament field reduced from 32 to 24 teams. The Panthers will open Saturday’s action against No. 23 seed Delta (11-3, 8-1 3A WSL), who finished runner-up in the 3A Western Slope League.
Also part of the regional field is Manitou Springs, runner-up from the 3A Tri-Peaks League. The Mustangs (9-3, 8-2 3A Tri-Peaks), ranked No. 15 in the tournament field, will take on Delta in the second of two matches in the M-CHS gymnasium, before a meeting with the host Panthers in what could determine a spot in the 3A State Championship Tournament, to be held at The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs in two weeks.
Dolores heads to Edwards for regionalsIt just wouldn’t be a 2A regional tournament without Dolores. The Bears (10-4, 10-2 SJBL), booked a spot in the field of 24 yet again, thanks to consistent play that helped them take second place in the San Juan Basin League.
Junior Erin Brown established herself as one of the most dominant forces in the classification, as the middle hitter accounted for over half the Bears’ kills, while also leading the team in aces.
Senior Sydney Smith also broke 100 kills on the campaign, often assisted by junior setter Kamri Willbanks, while the Bears leaned on the hustle of their senior libero Akira Edwards to help sustain rallies.
Dolores, under the guidance of head coach Gina Hollen, looks to return to the 2A state tournament, but will have to go through No. 6 seed Vail Christian (9-0, 9-0 2A/1A Western Slope League) and No. 11 Del Norte en route to their third visit to the championships in four years. The Bears enter as the No. 19 seed, and will take on the host Saints first, before a rematch against Del Norte (10-4, 8-0 2A/1A Southern Peaks). Dolores will look to flip the script against the Tigers, who knocked off the Bears, 3-0, back on April 1.
Bulldogs prep for Plains tripIt’s been another history-making year for Dove Creek athletics, and the volleyball team has thrived with another talented wave of Bulldogs. After an unbeaten run through the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League, head coach Lacey Murphy has her squad primed for another shot at a 1A state tournament berth.
The Bulldogs (11-2, 10-0 SJBL) have leaned on a balanced attack to keep opponents on their heels. Seniors Grace Hatfield and Kobie Beanland continue to lead the Dove Creek offense, much like they did on the basketball court, with a relentless attack.
Joined by freshman Kylie Gatlin and sophomore Trista Barnett, the Bulldogs have a variety of options for freshman setter Kalie Gatlin to pick out. Sophomore Lexie Gray adds to the challenges for Dove Creek opposition, leading the Bulldogs with blocks this season.
The 1A regional tournament has taken on a new format this spring, aligning with the other four classifications in terms of regional qualifiers. It also pits the Bulldogs against unfamiliar foes as they enter as the No. 12 seed in the field. The Bulldogs first face off with No. 20 seed South Baca (7-7, 3-5 1A Arkansas Valley) before taking on regional hosts, No. 5 seed Stratton/Liberty (13-1, 5-0 2A/1A Union Pacific)
Matches for Montezuma-Cortez, Dolores, and Dove Creek are all slated for Saturday, May 1, with regional champions moving on to The Broadmoor World Arena for the State Championships to be played on May 12-13.