The magical run continues for Montezuma-Cortez volleyball. With a perfect record and a spot in the field of eight teams at next week’s 3A State Tournament on the line, the Panthers produced another stellar performance, knocking off Delta 3-1 to punch their ticket to the Broadmoor World Arena for the state tournament May 12-13.
As they had been since their first days as freshman, regional title banners at the north end of the gymnasium were waiting for a new addition.
Head coach Joye McHenry’s group of talented upperclassmen weren’t to be phased, either, by late news that their other regional opponent, Manitou Springs, had to drop out of the tournament because of COVID protocols.
The result – a winner-take-all match with the 3A Western Slope League runner-up, Delta (11-4, 8-1 3A WSL), a team that was coming in on a hot streak of their own, winners of their previous 10 outings.
If the nerves were rattling around the M-CHS huddle before the match, the Panthers didn’t let it show.
M-CHS (13-0, 8-0 3A IML) wasted little time electrifying their home crowd, as senior Myka Glover and junior Avery Wright set the tone at the net with early kills. The Panthers built on the early momentum, and closed out Delta in the first set, 25-17.
Senior Grace Olsen added to the front line domination, as she produced four block assists to stunt any Delta run, and the hosts went on another big run in the second set to pull away, 25-17.
Classmates Devon McHenry and Kylie Lake each produced nine kills in the match, with McHenry adding a pair of aces.
Meanwhile, the back line produced a solid performance, led by seniors Amber Wood and Leigha Comisky tallying a combined 38 digs.
On the brink, Delta battled back in a tightly contested third set, eventually clipping M-CHS, 25-22, to bring themselves back within a set. It was only the eighth set all season conceded by the Panthers.
M-CHS showed the same resilience that helped them dominate the 3A Intermountain League, as they reclaimed the energy in the orange-and-black clad gymnasium in the fourth set. Wright’s dominance at the net, finishing with 22 kills on the day, almost all assisted by junior setter Adezdiin Boeckman, pushed the Panthers over the top.
M-CHS blitzed Delta in the late stages of the match, and as the final point provided the Panthers with a 25-20 fourth set clincher, the Panthers mobbed the floor.
With their legacy to soon be added to the regional champions banners above “The Jungle” on their final match on their home court, the Panthers now have their sights set on the state’s biggest prize.
M-CHS will make the eastward journey to Colorado Springs for a state quarterfinal match against Prospect Ridge Academy (14-1, 9-1 3A Metro League), a charter school based out of Broomfield. The Panthers will enter as the No. 2 seed in the bracket, and will take on the Miners at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12 at the Broadmoor World Arena.
A win would propel the Panthers in to the state semis, where they would face either Sterling or Lutheran at 8 a.m. on Thursday, May 13. The state title match will be played later that evening at 8 p.m.