Grand Valley Cardinals, Rifle Bears have solid showings in final volleyball matches
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
A team-building exercise helped the Grand Valley High School volleyball squad make a big splash as a team this past Friday.
The Cardinals held a scavenger hunt at a shopping mall north of Colorado Springs, before their Class 3A Regional volleyball tournament against No. 3 seeded Manitou Springs, which ended up winning the regional to earn a berth in Friday’s and Saturday’s State Championships at the Denver Coliseum.
The scavenger hunt included the entire team singing the national anthem in the mall’s food court, which drew an ovation from a surrounding crowd.
While it didn’t make much of a difference against a powerful Manitou Springs squad, which beat Grand Valley 25-14, 25-8, 25-8, it did, however, make a difference in the Cardinals’ following match against Pagosa Springs. Grand Valley won 22-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-11, 15-7.
“It was a great exercise that we put together,” said Grand Valley coach David Walck, whose team earned its second consecutive trip to the regional round of the 3A state volleyball tournament.
“After we lost to Manitou, I told the girls that we had to find a way to come together so we could finish the season with a win,” the coach continued. “We were able to do that at the start. But by the fourth set, that really kicked in.”
Did it ever. Grand Valley dominated the fourth set against Pagosa Springs, then closed the match out to finish the tournament 1-1 and the season 10-15.
Seniors on the team included Jori Shaver, Kayla Fredrich and Emily Williams, but the Cardinals return a strong corps of players next season, such as Kyra Chenoweth, Megan Smith and Jori Dovey.
Grand Valley, however, wasn’t the only area volleyball team that played in a regional this past weekend.
Rifle High School’s volleyball team made its first postseason appearance since 2001 — a span of 12 years — when it went to Greeley to play in a 3A regional at University High School this past Saturday.
The Bears lost their opening match against the Bulldogs, 25-10, 25-14, 25-8, but regrouped to play a competitive match against The Classical Academy, 25-8, 25-14, 23-25, 25-18.
“I told the girls after we played against University that we needed to find a way to bounce back,” Rifle coach Erin Reider said. “We needed to show that we weren’t going to just roll over.”
That was definitely the case in the final two sets of the season for the Bears, who finished their final season at Class 3A with an 11-14 overall record. Rifle will join the rest of the school’s athletic programs at the Class 4A level next season.
Seniors on the team included Katelyn Shanahan, Leah Antonelli, Sarah McCutchan and Jordan Cody.
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Local teams just missed out on qualifying for state as teams but will be sending individual representatives following Friday’s regional meets.