Roaring Fork seeks regional redemption
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado – When she read the text message from Roaring Fork volleyball teammate Landon Garvik, Savanna Phibbs couldn’t contain her excitement.
“I was home alone and I jumped up in the air and screamed,” Phibbs said, recalling the moment she found out that the Rams were hosting a regional tournament. “I was so excited.”
With a 21-1 record – the only loss coming to Eagle Valley, one of the state’s top 4A teams – Roaring Fork earned the right to host Saturday’s 3A Region C tournament.
The Rams blew through District 6 competition last weekend with a 3-0 record and knew they’d have a chance to host. They didn’t expect it, though.
“It means everything to us that we get to do this again this weekend in our gym,” Garvik said. “Hopefully, we’ll finish the weekend with a regional championship.”
Last year, Roaring Fork made the long haul to Bayfield for regionals and came agonizingly close to emerging with a state berth.
A three-way tie for first place left the Rams to play a one-game tiebreaker with Faith Christian for the region’s second of two state spots. A 25-20 loss left Roaring Fork hungry to return.
“We’re absolutely taking into consideration kind of what went wrong last year and focusing pretty much on getting some redemption for ourselves and making it through regionals this year,” Garvik said.
It has certainly appeared as if Garvik and company have been on a mission in 2010. The Rams bulldozed their way through the regular season with an 18-1 record and easily won the 3A Western Slope League for a second straight season by going 18-0.
Roaring Fork lost a mere three games in those 18 league matches. Olathe took the Rams to five games back on Sept. 11 and Cedaredge took a game from them on Sept. 18. Those were the only blemishes.
“Seeing how close we were to making it to state last year, we all had really high hopes for this year,” Garvik said. “I wouldn’t say I’m surprised by how far we’ve made it this year. I’m really happy with the progress we’ve made. I think it’s exactly what we wanted. We’re on the right track with what our goals were for this season.”
Garvik, who’s bound for Division I George Washington University on a full-ride scholarship next school year, leads a senior quintet that’s been playing together since the sixth grade.
Phibbs, Niki Burns, Ixchel Muniz and Joey Clingan round out the senior bunch, who have carved out quite the legacy for themselves in Carbondale. They were dubbed “The Dream Team” coming up through the middle school ranks and haven’t disappointed at the high school level.
The Roaring Fork seniors hope to cap their storied prep careers with a trip to the Nov. 12-13 state tournament at Denver Coliseum. To do that, they’ll have to finish in the top two at Saturday’s four-team regional.
Roaring Fork, seeded third among the classification’s remaining 16 teams, will have to get through the likes of No. 6 St. Mary’s (19-3), No. 11 Colorado Academy (17-5) and No. 14 Jefferson Academy (17-5) to advance.
Head coach Carrie Shultz hopes that playing in the friendly, intensity-packed confines of their home gymnasium fuels the Rams in their state push.
“They feed off good play and how the crowd responds to that play,” she said. “Sometimes, people watch our team and say it can be a little unemotional, but in a tight game when you have your crowd behind you, we’re looking at the home-court advantage on Saturday. Hopefully, it’ll give us a couple extra points and the energy level we’ll need to win those matches on Saturday.”
Judging by Phibbs’ response to Garvik’s text message, the chance to play at home means quite a bit to the Rams.
“It means a lot to be able to sleep in my own bed and, you know, not to have to get up an hour before and drive to the gym,” Phibbs said. “It’ll help us a lot. … I love our fans. Just having them and hearing them in the background, you know someone’s there for you. It’s really exciting.”
St. Mary’s will face Colorado Academy in the day’s first match which is scheduled for 8 a.m. Roaring Fork will face Jefferson Academy at approximately 9:30 a.m., with matches against Colorado Academy (12:30 p.m.) and St. Mary’s (3:30 p.m.) to follow.
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Danna Cuc Valenzuela and Logan Averill are second graders at Riverview School and have been friends since preschool, so they’re pretty familiar with what’s behind each other’s masks.