Defending champion Yuma is the sixth seed in what appears to be a very deep and talented Class 2A state tournament field this year. Unbeaten Dayspring Christian is the top overall seed with Hoehne, Paonia and Colorado Springs School earning the next three placements in the pairings.
Tournament matches open Friday morning with pool play. Winners advance to the semifinals on Saturday afternoon with the championship match set for 7:00pm that night. Every match of the tournament can be seen live through the NFHS Network and we’ll be tracking scores online here.
#1 Dayspring Christian (25-0)
#8 Simla (19-6)
#12 Union Colony Prep (17-8)
Dayspring Christian is the lone unbeaten club in the 2A tournament and is one of only three teams statewide that enter the final weekend of the year without a loss. They also have a combined four wins over the other two teams in their pool and since all ended up in three game sweeps, the Eagles are heavily favored to reach the semifinal round. They’ve beaten Union Colony Prep three times already this year and beat Simla on their home court during the Cubs Invitational in September. Junior Katie Kurz leads a talented group of hitters with 349 kills. Megan Roberts begins state tournament play with 256 and Makayla Bell has 224. Kurz also leads the team with 67 aces with Kelsi Donoho right behind with 64. Overall the team has served up 289 aces this year. Donoho is also the top setter with 537 assists
Simla improved their win total by 10 games and that improvement earned them at an-large bid despite falling to Denver Christian in regionals last week. Two of those extra wins are against state tournament teams Wray and Kiowa (1A). Simla is led offensively by Jerraldawn Rector with 352 kills while Kegan Hamacher is next with 198. Setting duties are divided between Riley Maranville (281 assists) and Chloe Duffy (277). Three of those four players are sophomores and with Rector just a junior, this weekend is the start of what could be a tremendous two to three year run for the Cubs.
Union Colony is in the state tournament for the second straight year. They went 1-1 in pool play falling to Paonia before beating Rye. The Timberwolves are battle tested in the post-season as all three teams from their regional last week made the state tournament. Dayspring Christian is the top overall seed while Wray joined Union Colony as at-large teams. Jayden Aske (169 kills) and Kiana Wright (167) provide a solid one-two punch at the net and the two have also combined for 517 of the team’s 544 assists.
#2 Hoehne (22-3)
#7 Fowler (20-5)
#11 Wray (15-9)
Great tradition is found in this pool as Fowler is second all-time with 13 state championships as they trail only Platte Valley for most crowns in Colorado history. Four of those state titles have come in the last decade with the most recent in 2010 where the Grizzlies finished off three consecutive championships. Hoehne also went back-to-back in 20016 and 2007.
The two are in the same conference and finished one-two in the Santa Fe league this year. The rivals split two regular season matchups with Hoehne also grabbing a win over the Grizzlies in the district tournament. Both captured regional titles last week with Fowler winning on the road against Del Norte and South Park in the San Luis Valley.
Wray went 0-2 in regionals suffering losses to Union Colony Prep and Dayspring Christian but as mentioned all three teams earned visits to the state tournament this week. The wildcard berth concludes a brilliant two-year building project for an Eagles program that won just two matches in 2014 and only one in 2013. They jumped all the way to 10 wins last season and continued their rise with 15 wins and a state tournament bid here in 2016. It’s their first trip since 2009.
The Eagles offense is led by Megan Godsey with 245 kills and Parker Jones with 201. Paige Brown is third on the list with 157. Tylar Bowman feeds the front line and begins play on Friday with a team high 440 assists. Bridgette Redden also provided 119 assists this season. Six Eagles have at least 11 aces on the season.
Shaelyn Walton paces the Hoehne offense with 280 kills while Brittanie Hill (166) and Katelynn Low (104) have hit the ball well this year. Jaylynn Tortorelli has 390 assists and Tiffany Montoya 265. Ryan Coberly, with 47 aces is the top server but is followed closely by Walton with 42.
Junior Elizabeth Hagerman is the first option for the Fowler offense and has 337 kills this year. Gabrielle Leone (255 kills) is second on the list and Teyah Schiffer (149) is third. Lexi Van Sickle has fired out 43 aces, Leone 41 and Hagerman 39. Kassidy Hotrich has exclusively handled setter duties this year and needs just 75 assists at the state tournament to reach 1,000 for the year.
#3 Paonia (23-2)
#6 Yuma (21-4)
#10 West Grand (20-5)
Record wise this is the best pool as all three teams have already posted at least 20 wins. As mentioned, Yuma is the defending state champion and will look for their third overall championship this weekend. The Indians downed Resurrection Christian in five sets last November for their first crown since 1990. Luisa Hernandez had 12 kills, Cody Robinson seven and Chasey Blach five in that match and those three return to lead the Indians offensively this year. No player returns that had an assist or ace in last year’s championship match.
Setting duties have been handled this year by Kenedy Roth who enters the weekend with 764 assists. Taylor Hansen also chipped in 110. Robinson paced the team with 56 aces and Kyle Rayl is next with 38. Hernandez (311 kills), Robinson (242) and Blach (241) are the top hitters as expected.
Paonia is unbeaten against 2A opponents with losses coming against much larger schools Fruita Monument and Grand Junction. The Eagles hoping the tough league schedule and those two matches will help them reach the state final after being eliminated in the semifinals a year ago. After struggling the previous two years in pool matches, the Eagles finally went 2-0 in that area last year before falling to Resurrection Christian in three sets.
This year they’ll carry an eight-match winning streak into the tournament. They also have two wins over West Grand this season in a total of seven sets. Balance is their key offensively as five players have recorded at least 115 kills this season. The list is led by McKenna Hartigan (242) and McKenna Palmer (216) but Brianna Vanvleet (180) and Sophie Anderson (150) can also become the number one option at the net. Emily Pieper (115) is fifth in hitting and leads the team with 569 assists. Serving is also important to the Eagles as they’ve registered 277 aces overall including 74 from Hartigan.
West Grand also went 20-5 last year but failed to reach the state tournament. This year they handled Norwood and Telluride in four sets apiece to land the regional tournament and earn an automatic bid. Losses this year have come against Lyons, Middle Park, Meeker and Paonia (twice).
The Mustangs also have five hitters with at least 100 kills; a group led by Peyton Bodemann (269) and Sydney Ritschard (166). Gabby Wilson follows those two with 120 and Hailey McNichols (108) and Kayla Desanti (106) combined for 214. Wilson also adds 74 aces while Ashley Matney is the team leader with 699 assists.
#4 Colorado Springs School (23-2)
#5 Lyons (19-6)
#9 Denver Christian (19-5)
Of the three teams, only Lyons has a state championship in school history as Lions hoisted the top trophy three times from 1977 through 1986. Colorado Springs School is in the field for the second straight year but has not captured a title and this week will mark the first ever visit to the state tournament for Denver Christian.
Colorado Springs School and Lyons were also in the same pool a year ago with the Lions grabbing a win in three sets. The Lions also beat Limon a year ago but dropped a semifinal match to Yuma (3-0) to end their season. CSS had just 14 kills in the loss to Lyons a year ago with seven coming from Laney Swan who leads the team with 359 this season. She gets help from Jaydi Starling (162) and Hannah Taylor (158). Swan also has 173 assists but the team is paced in that area by Kaela Gaylord with 475. The Kodiaks also have 230 aces on the season with Swan again topping the list with 70.
Lyons opened the season 8-0 but then lost to Dayspring Christian and Denver Christian in the same week. Two other losses are against Yuma and they also fell short to Dayspring Christian in the district tournament. They were added to the state tournament roster as a wildcard and even with a very young roster, could still make a push for the title.
Freshman Taylor Maguire (281) is the top offensive threat for the Lions but sophomores Jayla Harding (165) and Kylen Christiansen (135) are also strong up front. Junior Ixchel Leeuwenburgh is a fourth player with at least 100 kills (111). Senior Maddi Maguire (417 assists) and Christiansen (392) both see time at setter while Sarah Stevelinck (75 aces) and Hardin (62) are the best servers.
Denver Christian is the fourth Mile High league member in the tournament field joining Lyons, Dayspring Christian and Union Colony Prep. As mentioned, they scored a nice win over Lyons in conference play but lost to the other two. In the win over Lyons, Hally Herder (23 kills) and Brittney Anton (19) had huge nights up front while Jenai Haman (21) and Jenna Peters (20) combined for 41 assists. The numbers are not surprising as Anton (357 kills) and Herder (288) were the top hitters throughout the season with Peters (42) and Haman (357) finishing one-two in assists as well.
LAST TEN STATE CHAMPIONS
2014: resurrection Christian
2013: Resurrection Christian