Paonia Eagles go 1-1 at state volleyball

DENVER — The Paonia Eagles did not reach the state volleyball tournament for the first time in 22 years without showing a little gumption along the way.

And by notching their first state tournament win in 29 years on Friday, the Eagles served notice they can compete with any of the elite small-school programs in the state.

The Eagles had a rough start Saturday against Swink, getting swept in three hotly contested games to get eliminated from the Class 2A state tournament.

Swink, the 2A tournament’s No. 2 seed, outlasted seventh-seeded Paonia for a 25-20, 25-23, 25-21 win.

“I always tell everyone, ‘That’s the kind of kids they are — they’re athletes and they’re competitors,’ ” Paonia coach Krista Carsten said. “They never roll over. They never say die. They believe they can all the time. I’m just so incredibly proud.”

Nerves might have played a part Saturday as Paonia fell behind 6-0 right out of the gate.

The Eagles used an 11-5 run to race back into the contest, eventually tying the set at 15-15 before the Lions held on.

Despite a late run in the second game, Paonia faced elimination, falling behind 20-13 in game 3. Yet the Eagles refused to go away, scoring seven consecutive points to draw even at 20-20. At 21-21, Swink reeled off the final four points to end the Eagles’ season.

“I’m just proud that I was part of it,” Paonia senior Abby Campbell said. “We knew if we won, we’d be in the top four, and that would be unreal to us. I don’t know if that got to us. I think everyone gave everything they had, and that’s all we can ask for.”


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