Regional ready: Warriors to find out fate today after successful Saturday
First things first.
That’s what the Central High School volleyball team had to concern itself with on Saturday.
The Warriors achieved their first priority. By advancing to the championship match in the Class 5A District 6 tournament, they earned a berth in this weekend’s regional playoffs.
Central would have preferred to win the district title, but that was not to be, as Doherty outlasted the Warriors in a thrilling five-game championship match, 25-17, 23-25, 25-21, 20-25, 17-15.
“We’re in a good situation,” Central coach Beth Nelson of earning a berth in one of Saturday’s four regional tournaments.
There were few surprised in Saturday morning’s rounds of pool play at Central. The Warriors won their two pool games, both 3-0.
Doherty also took its two pool matches without losing a game.
Fruita Monument, playing in Doherty’s pool, lost its two morning matches, both in three games, and was eliminated.
Central faced a familiar opponent in the afternoon semifinals, meeting Durango for a third time this season.
“That’s the hardest thing in the world,” Nelson said of defeating a good and familiar opponent three times during the season.
Despite having beaten the Demons twice during the Southwestern League season, Central had all it could handle.
The Warriors won the first game 25-14. Durango came back to take a 25-19 victory in the second game.
Then came the watershed game of the day.
Durango led the third game 24-18 before Central reeled off six points with Kristina Lindsey at the service line.
Durango took a 28-27 lead and scored what it thought was game point before the floor official ruled that a Durango kill down the line was out of bounds. The Warriors won the next three points to take the game 30-28, and with it, the momentum.
Central took the match with a 25-17 victory in game four.
“Things just went our way,” Central middle hitter Amy Kame said.
Doherty, which swept Cherokee Trail in its semifinal, and Central alternated victories in the first four games of the championship match.
The Warriors scored five of seven points to take a 14-11 lead and, with it, match point in the fifth game.
Doherty got two kills to pull to within one; a Central hitting error tied the game.
At 15-15, Central had two hitting errors to close out the match.
With two big hitters, Taylor Simpson and Kelsey English, Doherty posed a challenge for the Central defense.
“We were just working on waiting,” Kame said of trying to get touches on Doherty’s attacks rather than going for blocks. “That helped a lot.”
Simpson finished with a match-high 27 kills.
“I’m proud of them. To lose that match in game five, we can handle that,” Nelson said, knowing a loss to Durango in the semifinals would have ended their season.
Kame, who had 61 kills in Central’s four matches, including 18 against Doherty, said maintaining the intensity in the final two matches was the challenge.
“Staying focused was important,” she said.
The Warriors (21-2) will find out their fate when the regional pairings are released today by the Colorado High School Activities Association.