Eagles intent on finishing what they started
When the Paonia High School volleyball team sat among the spectators during the Class 2A state volleyball championship match last fall, the Eagles realized something as they watched: They could beat the teams in the final.
After falling 3-0 to Swink in their second match of pool play and failing to advance to the semifinals, Paonia bounced back with a fury in for the 2013 season.
The Eagles are undefeated, complete with district and regional championships, going into the Class 2A state meet Friday and Saturday at the Denver Coliseum.
The Eagles (25-0) play Yuma in pool play Friday, then face Sangre de Cristo in pool play Saturday.
The pool winner plays a semifinal Saturday, and the championship match will follow at 7 p.m.
“No one thinks we’re the top dog,” Eagles coach Krista Carsten said. “Every girl will have to be at the top of their game. We’ve talked about it a lot this year, about coming home with a gold ball.
“The focus is different this year. The girls know they can compete and think that they can win.”
Yuma (20-5) is led by sophomore middle hitter Tara Traphagan. Listed at 6-foot-1, Traphagan leads the Indians with 320 kills, almost twice as many as anyone else on the roster. She’s also top three on the team in blocks and aces. Marina Hansen leads Yuma with 378 assists.
Sangre de Cristo (24-1) remains somewhat of a mystery. The Thunderbirds’ only loss this season was against Sargent.
Carsten said only one thing will allow the Eagles to stay undefeated.
“We’re just going to have to work our tails off and play the best volleyball we’ve ever played,” Carsten said.
Sophomore setter Taylor Carsten said the experiences from the 2012 tournament have driven the Eagles to excel this season.
Taylor also said the perfect season has added pressure.
“We’ve been doing pretty good,” she said. “I mean, last year we went into (the regional tournament) with three losses, and this we’ve had the perfect season. It gives us confidence for (the state tournament), but then again there is that added pressure. It can be hard.
“But basically we need to keep doing what we’re doing, and at state we’re going to face some bigger blockers, so we’ll have to work on covering and some other little things before state.
“All of our girls jump really well, so it’s not that big of a deal that we’re smaller. We’ll be OK at state.”