Another first: Coal Ridge wins Class 3A volleyball regional
PEACH VALLEY — A young girl in the crowd at Coal Ridge High School on Saturday asked Paige Ryan why she was “crying tears of sadness.”
“Oh no!” the Coal Ridge senior middle hitter replied to the girl with a smile. “These are tears of happiness!”
Ryan wasn’t the only Coal Ridge volleyball player who was overwhelmed with joy. The rest of her team could claim the same thing after the Titans swept Estes Park and Faith Christian in the Class 3A Region 9 Tournament at CRHS to earn the school’s first berth in the Class 3A State Championships for volleyball in its short history.
“Yeah, I’m pretty emotional right now,” smiled Ryan, whose voice showed evidence of that emotion even 10 minutes after she hoisted the tournament trophy with her teammates. “I’m so happy. It’s been such a long journey to get here.”
The Titans (21-4 overall), the No. 9 seed in the 36-team state field, opened the day with a 25-20, 25-12, 25-16 victory over No. 28-seeded Estes Park. No. 16-seeded Faith Christian followed by beating Estes Park 25-21, 25-13, 25-8, and the Titans clinched the state berth with their 25-23, 25-23, 26-24 win over Faith in their second match of the day.
Now Coal Ridge will make a 3 1/2-hour journey east to play in the State Championships this weekend. They’re scheduled for Nov. 8 and 9 at the Denver Coliseum, and the Titans will be one of the 12 Class 3A teams still playing.
“You always hope this is a possibility when you have good players,” Coal Ridge coach Scott Black said. “A lot of things can happen over the course of the season. Everything kind of came together at just the right time for us.”
Ryan, the 5-foot-4 middle hitter with a 36-inch vertical jump, made some of the biggest plays of the day for Coal Ridge. She finished with 13 kills, four stuff-blocks and five service aces, at one point serving two runs of six consecutive points over the course of the day. Alicia Hampton finished with 11 kills against Estes Park and six against Faith Christian, and Britini Allen finished with a combined 13 kills in both matches to go with a 12-kill, two-ace performance from Bailey Davis.
Just because the matches were sweeps, however, doesn’t mean the Titans had an easy time.
Coal Ridge looked like it would have an easy time in the second set against Faith Christian, using a 12-2 run, capped by a hitting error on Faith’s Chrystina Meador, to take a 14-4 lead. But the Eagles clawed their way back into it, as a kill from Meador got Faith Christian close at 22-20. Kills from Hampton and Allen, however, along with a stuff-block from Allen, gave the Titans the points they needed to finish the set and take a 2-0 cushion.
Faith Christian almost forced a fourth set, however, as a kill from Maya Michener gave the Eagles a 23-21 lead. That’s when Ryan stepped up big, though, making a kill and consecutive stuff blocks to give the Titans the lead. Then after a kill from Faith Christian’s Becky Rilly to tie it, Ryan notched another kill and Bailey Davis recorded the match-ending serve to seal the match and kick off the celebration.
“I told the girls to take this now, smile all weekend and enjoy it,” Black said. “Come Monday, we’ll talk about some new goals we want to make.”
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