Both Telluride and Norwood earned berths to the high-intensity State Championships held Friday and Saturday in Denver, where both teams garnered victories amid the fiercest competition in the state.
Neither team advanced to the semi-finals, yet their presence on the statewide stage paid homage to both of these teams’ illustrious 2011 volleyball seasons.
Norwood Ends on a High Note at State Tourney
NHS volleyball coach Sheri Hardman had great expectations for her volleyball team this year: The team had taken their first trip to the 1A State Tournament in recent memory just last year, and Norwood’s volleyball squad would be seeing all but two of its starters returning in 2011.
The season lived up to Hardman’s expectations, with the Mavericks climbing to a dominating 19-3 record going into the District Tournament in October. There, the girls rallied to beat perennial rivals Vail Christian, taking the title of District Champs in the process.
Although the team suffered defeat at the hands of Dove Creek at Regionals, the loss couldn’t deflate the team’s enthusiasm for the challenge ahead: A second trip to the State Tournament, which they won by placing second at the Regional Tournament.
“Last year, we walked into the stadium and were star struck,” Hardman recalled of the team’s last trip to the State Tournament in 2010, where all five school divisions play in the same colossal stadium at the same time. “This year the girls were more prepared and knew more of what to expect…even so, when you get up there on that court, you’re facing the state’s most top-notch competition – the eight teams left in the state,” Hardman said, of which Norwood was one.
The Lady Mavericks lost their first two games of the tournament on Friday, first facing a tough fight against the #1 seed Otis and next going to the full five matches against Wiley but ultimately succumbing to that team as well.
Hardman says the team knew they’d have to post a win Saturday morning in their game against Pawnee to have any hope of making it into the second round of competition. They powered through that match, beating Pawnee in three games, 25-20, 26-24, and 26-24.
The victory left the team in a three-way tie with Pawnee and Wiley, forcing a California Playoff (in which the teams play each in just one game). Wiley ultimately won the upper hand, and with it the berth into the semi-finals.
Despite the disappointment of not climbing higher in the State Tournament bracket this year, Hardman admits that overall, 2011 was “awesome.”
As evidence, NHS was recognized with numerous All Conference awards. Lindsey Stindt was named the 1A Player of the Year, while Senior Katelyn Hardman and Junior Harlie Williams were awarded All- Conference.
Hardman and Stindt additionally won the recognition of the Colorado Coaches of Girls’ Sports organization, and will be playing in the All State game next weekend in Denver.
Other graduating seniors on the 2011 Norwood volleyball team included Brooke Kama, Jackie Nelson, Amanda Sowler, and exchange student Rachel Goa. Hardman added that the team is thankful for support it received from Norwood’s TruValue and Maryann and Bob Krason, who assisted the team in its travels to Denver for the State Tournament, as well as everyone who supported the team through their time and efforts this year including Assistant Coach Terry Snow.
In first State Tourney in a Decade, Telluride Walks Away With a Win
The Lady Miners stepped onto the State Volleyball stage as relative rookies, with no player on the team ever having played at that level before; it has, after all, been ten years since a Telluride volleyball team made it that far.
But in 2011, with an overall season record of 23-5, Telluride was primed for their chance to step onto the State Tournament stage. The girls stepped up to the challenge, knocking out a first-game win in their first match of the tournament against high-ranking Akron.
The girls couldn’t keep pace with their first-game momentum, however, ultimately falling to Akron and, later on Friday, to Byers.
Assistant Coach Lenay Godle said that although the outcome of the girls’ final match on Saturday wouldn’t get the girls into the semi-finals either way, with the outcome of Friday’s matches having already determined their pool’s top four teams, the Miners weren’t about ready to throw in the towel.
“We came back the next day, and while it didn’t really mean anything as far as the tournament was concerned, it definitely meant a lot for our pride,” Godle said of Telluride’s victory over Sanford on Saturday, which they won in two of three games 25-18, 18-25, and 25-17.
The victory marked the first State Tournament win Telluride has posted in well over a decade.
Fellow Assistant Coach Rhea DePagter said that although the team had hoped to climb into the semi-finals, this year’s trip to State was a boon for girls’ sports in Telluride.
DePagter was a member of the 2001 State-going THS volleyball team, and says that the experience provided some of her fondest high school memories.
“It was great to see Telluride back at the Coliseum,” DePagter said, “and great to see the school and community excited about volleyball again.”
THS will be saying goodbye to senior players Emy Ludwig, Emily Langely, Mallory Bosse and Genevieve Matamoros. But they’ll also be keeping a bevy of underclassmen players who appear ready to fill those big shoes, including 2011 starters, junior libero Sarah Wontrobski and middle blocker sophomore Erin Kean.
“We have a strong class of juniors and sophomores this year, so the coaching staff is excited to see where the team can go next year,” Godle said.
Langley and Ludwig were recognized as All Conference players, while libero Wontrobski was given an Honorable Mention. Ludwig and Langely will also represent Telluride on the All State level, as they join the Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports All State Team (comprised of the top 18 players in the 2A division). The Colorado High School Coaches Association additionally added Ludwig to their All State Team (comprised of the division’s top ten players), while Langely was announced as an alternate.