GC girls head to State Volleyball Tourney
November 10, 2016
The ladies of Grand County are headed to State.
Last weekend the volleyball teams from both the East Grand and West Grand school districts secured spots at the Colorado State Volleyball Tournament in the 3A and 2A Divisions respectively. The State Volleyball Tournament will be held at the Denver Coliseum Friday Nov. 11 and Sat. Nov. 12.
The Lady Panther’s are the seventh seed for the 3A tournament this weekend and are expected to play their first match, against the Valley High School lady Vikings, Friday. The Colorado State high school statistics aggregation website MaxPreps lists the start time of the game as 11 a.m. but according to Middle Park High School (MPHS) Head Volleyball Coach Kate Lapham the ladies will more likely take the court sometime around 5 p.m. Friday evening.
“Matches begin at 8 am each day, and following matches start immediately after the preceding match is finished,” Lapham stated. “Based on an average time of an hour and a half per match, we should play at around 5pm on Friday, and 11am on Saturday.”
The 3A State Tournament is made up of 12 teams from throughout the state takes the format of four three-team round robins during pool play. To advance to the semi-finals a team must defeat both opponents in their round-robin pool. The winners of the round-robin pools will face each other Saturday afternoon as soon as pool play ends. The winners of those two matches will face each other for the State Finals, scheduled firmly for 7 p.m. Saturday night.
Coach Lapham was excited about the lady Panthers success this year stating, “Our tam has had an incredible season so far and has worked extremely hard to get to the State Tournament. We have the opportunity to play against some of the best teams in the state this weekend, and I truly believe that we have the ksill level and maturity to complete with them.” Coach Lapham believes the nerves of the lady Panthers will be their biggest obstacle this weekend and hopes the young ladies can keep them in check to, “manage our errors and emotions in a high-pressure, high-intensity environment.”
Last weekend the lady Panthers swept the Regional Tournament held at MPHS. The team’s middle hitters carried the offense to a victory with Bailey Martin scoring 12 kills and Morgan Shaw tallying 11. Coach Lapham stated Layne Neiberger, “ran an efficient offense and ended the match with 37 assists”. The Panther defense was pivotal as well with Lexi Blixt defending with 19 digs and 10 from Raylin Wikoff.
Overall this season the lady Panthers have four young ladies who have recorded over 100 kills throughout the fall. Junior Bailey Martin leads the team with 170 kills. She is trailed closely by Kiera Barr who has recorded 149 kills. Rounding out the team’s top-four team leaders in kills are Harley Phillips with 122 and Maddie Eichler with 103. The ladies are hitting very efficiently this year with an overall team hitting percentage of .244.
The offense has been led this year by Layne Neiberger who has accumulated 603 assists on the season and also leads the team in aces with serving at 48. Morgan Shaw leads all blockers on the team with 43 blocks while Lexi Blixt and Annalys Hanna have anchored the team’s defense with 222 digs and 180 digs respectively.
The West Grand lady Mustangs will also compete this weekend in the 2A State Tournament also held at the Denver Coliseum. The 2A Tournament follows the same round-robin pool play format of the 3A Tournament and is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. West Grand is seeded tenth for the tournament and will face off against Paonia before their second pool play match against Yuma on Saturday.
West Grand High School Head Volleyball Coach Rose Gamblin has been happy with the performance of the lady Mustangs this season and is looking forward to the State Tournament. “The Mustangs have had a solid season so far,” stated Gamblin. “We lost a few games early on but have since come full circle and peaked at the perfect time.” Coach Gamblin stated the lady Mustangs are excited about the opportunity to compete at the State level and added, “I am proud of all the work they have done to get there. Our goal is to go in and give it our all, holding nothing back and being able to finish with no regrets. Win or lose we want to go out playing our best volleyball.