‘Cats happy with state volleyball experience

DENVER — The Fruita Monument High School volleyball team achieved three of its major goals this season.

Extending those goals was a bit out of reach for the Wildcats on Friday, however, as they were defeated in their two pool-play matches in the Class 5A state tournament, ending their season.

Nonetheless, “The experience (of playing in the state tournament) is everything for me,” Wildcats senior co-captain Joelle LeFevre said.

It was a goal set by the team in a bonding session at a summer camp at Colorado State University, one of three main goals the team established.

The first was to win the Southwestern League outright, which it did. The second was to have the regular-season record and schedule strength sufficient to play host to a regional, which it also accomplished.

The third was to play on the Coliseum floor at the state tournament.

Playing in the second match of the 5A tournament Friday morning, the Wildcats, seeded ninth in the 12-team setup, lost their opener 25-12, 25-23, 25-12 to fifth seed Cherry Creek.

They stayed with the Bruins through the early points of all three games. Tied at 21-21 in the second game, they fell victim to the powerful hitting combo of Toni McDougald and Emily Fish as Cherry Creek scored four of the final six points.

The Wildcats pulled to within 15-12 in the third game before the Bruins reeled off the final 10 points of the match.

Paired up against fourth-seeded Mountain Vista, a team that eliminated the Wildcats in last year’s regional tournament, Fruita Monument won the first game of its second match 25-23 and held a 24-23 lead in the second game, but the Golden Eagles rallied for a 28-26 victory.

That shifted the momentum as Mountain Vista won the next two games 25-15, 25-11.

After losing the second game, “It’s hard to get the energy back,” LeFevre said.

Wildcats coach Bob Richardson gave credit to the Golden Eagles, who made some errors in the first game and early in the second.

After a timeout with Fruita leading 5-0 in the second game, “They stopped making those errors,” Richardson said.

Jordan Eatwell, another senior co-captain, admitted being on the Coliseum floor was initially a bit overwhelming.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” she said, nervousness eventually turning into excitement.

Regardless, “I’m pretty proud of the kids for making it to state,” Richardson said of the school’s first trip to the state tournament since 1981, when it was a Class 3A school.

The Wildcats graduate eight seniors, with three juniors and a freshman getting to experience a state tournament.

“The senior group kind of opened the door (for expectations),” Richardson said. “They set the bar high.”

As one of those seniors, “It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” LeFevre said of making the state tournament.

Friday was not a good day for the Western Slope.

In the Class 4A tournament, Montrose, the fifth seed, was upended by ninth seed Elizabeth in its first match 25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 25-10.

Elizabeth then advanced to this afternoon’s semifinals be upsetting fourth seed Thomas Jefferson 3-1, eliminating Montrose. The Indians close out pool play in this morning’s first match against Thomas Jefferson.

In the 3A tournament, Coal Ridge lost its two pool-play matches, both by 3-0 scores, to Holy Family and Platte Valley.

Paonia got off to a rough start in the 2A tournament, losing 25-18, 25-8, 25-19 to Yuma, which went 2-0 to earn the semifinal berth. The Eagles, who had been undefeated, play Sangre de Cristo this morning.

Meeker defeated Ridgway in its opener, then fell to Resurrection Christian in three games.


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