Mancos claims 2A title, spot in state volleyball tournament
Entering this season, Mancos volleyball coach Ramona Shepherd questioned whether her team would make it to state for the sixth year in a row.
Despite returning key seniors Erica Blackburn and Aimee Johnson, the Bluejays’ roster has five freshmen, three who start.
But as the year went on, and the Bluejays improved, they set their sights higher and higher.
Saturday at Palisade High School, the Bluejays not only became the Class 2A Region C champions, they did it in dominating fashion with three-game sweeps in all three matches.
“I’ll tell you right now, I never thought we’d take it,” Shepherd said. “Never. I never did. Even when we walked in this morning.
“Our goal at the first (practice) of the year was to be competitive.”
The Bluejays swept their opening match against Rangely 29-27, 25-19, 27-25 despite an ankle injury to freshman outside hitter Courtney Colyer, then kept the momentum up against Telluride with a 25-19, 25-20, 25-21 win.
The Bluejays beat Meeker in their final match of the day 25-22, 25-18, 25-14 to win the regional championship.
In the game against Meeker, the Bluejays relied largely on the senior tandem of Blackburn, the setter, and Aimee Johnson, the outside hitter.
Johnson finished the match with 23 kills and Blackburn had 40 assists, despite heavy coverage by blockers on Johnson’s side of the court.
In the first game of the final match, Mancos took an early 9-4 lead, but Meeker had key kills from Katie Morgan to keep the game close. The Cowboys narrowed the lead to one point late in the game when a kill by Morgan cut Mancos’ lead to 23-22.
Johnson had two kills to end it.
The rest of the match, Mancos went ahead early and never let go. The Bluejays scored 10 of the first 11 points in the second game, then kept a lead of at least seven points the rest of the way.
In the final game, Mancos used a 10-2 run to pull away.
Telluride earned the second berth with wins against Meeker and Rangely.
The Miners beat the Cowboys 25-21, 25-15, 25-19 to start the day.
But their final match of the day, they beat a scrappy Rangely team 18-25, 25-23, 28-26, 25-10.
It wasn’t until the final game that Telluride had a comfortable lead when the Miners got behind kills from Emily Langley and Emy Ludwig to take an early 11-4 lead. Rangely never got closer than six points the rest of the game.
The Miners’ trip to state wasn’t clinched until Mancos beat Meeker.