YHS volleyball heads to state as No. 1 seed
It is not easy winning a state championship.
Just ask those associated with the Yuma High School volleyball program. The Indians have been to the past five Class 2A tournaments, including three consecutive appearances in the championship match, and has one state title, in 2015, to show for it.
“It’s just hard,” Yuma coach Jenny Noble said. “Each year…it just depends on how the teams stack up. Even with our championship team, that wasn’t a given that year with Rez being so good. It took everything we had to get that one.”
The Indians are going to take another crack at it this weekend at the Denver Coliseum. This time, in their sixth straight trip to state, the Indians are the No. 1 seed for the first time since 2014, with designs on claiming the school’s third state championship in volleyball — the first came in 1990 at the 3A level — and second in three seasons.
“I hope we go in determined to get it done,” Noble said. “It’s not going to be handed to us.”
Yuma has done its preparatory work in order to set itself up nicely for a run at a state title. The Indians have lost only once all season, taking a 22-1 record into the 2A tourney, and winning its sixth straight regional title last Friday to help them secure the top spot in the Rating Percentage Index.
As the No. 1 seed, the Indians are in Pool I with eighth-seed Rangely, and 12th-seed Dolores.
The Rangely Panthers are 21-4, beating Telluride and Dolores last Saturday to win the Region G title. The Dolores Bears are 22-2, losing their season opener, then losing to Rangely last weekend. Noble said she does not have much on either team.
This is Dolores’ first state tournament since 2014, when the Bears also were the 12th seed in the same pool with top-seed Yuma, who went on to play Resurrection Christian in the championship match. It has been a longer wait for Rangely.
“Experience will be in our favor in pool play at least,” Noble said.
Yuma will open state play against Dolores in the second match of the day. Pool play begins at 8 a.m., so the Yuma match will begin at approximately 9:30 a.m. They will play Rangely in the day’s sixth match, which probably will begin somewhere around 3:30 p.m. However, one never knows with state volleyball — it could be earlier or much later, depending upon the previous matches’ length.
“It looks good to me,” Noble said of the seeding. “It’s nice to earn the No. 1 seed…I like how it plays out.”
Nevertheless, the big key is the Indians play both pool matches on Friday. If they win both, they know they will be in the semifinals Saturday afternoon. Last year, as the sixth seed, they had the last pool play match Friday, beating Paonia, then the last one Saturday, losing to West Grand in five sets. They then had to win a playoff among Yuma, Paonia and West Grand in order to advance to the semifinals, where they swept Hoehne, only to lose to Dayspring Christian in the final.
“It’s an advantage, definitely, as opposed to having your second pool game late in the day on Saturday like we did last year,” Noble said. “Mentally, getting both games done on Friday is huge — of course, if you win. You are able to take a breath or two before you take the court again in the semis the following day.”
Yuma was in Pool III last year, with the third and 10th seed. This year, the 3-6-10 pool is a tough one again as Dayspring Christian is the third seed, Lyons the sixth and Wiggins the 10th. Dayspring and Lyons are in the same league and district, with Lyons beating Dayspring twice this season, including for the District 7 title, and now must play again in the last match of the day on Friday. Plus, Lyons is the lower seed despite winning its league’s regular-season title, the district title, and its regional last Friday, while Dayspring lost to Yuma last Friday in Region F.
Both likely are two of the four best teams in all of 2A, yet one will not make it to the semifinals.
“I bet Lyons and Dayspring aren’t too happy right now,” Noble said.
“It’s unfair,” she continued about the seeding based solely on RPI, and the fact there are pre-determined regional pairings not based on RPI. “I tried to change it after last year, but nobody wanted to change anything. I bet there will be more wanting to change it after this year.”
Still, it has worked out well for the Indians as they have been able to take care of business this season, setting themselves up for the state tournament. If they get past pool play, they will play the winner of Pool IV (Hoehne, Fowler and Denver Christian) in the semifinals, Saturday afternoon. The championship matches are set for 7 p.m. Saturday.
“This week’s focus is to be zoned in on the work we have to get done,” Noble said. “There are areas in which we need to improve, and we need to find ways to get better in one week’s time.
All matches in all classifications will be played at the Denver Coliseum, Friday and Saturday. Matches begin each day at 8 a.m., and the doors open at 7 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Coliseum. Admission is $10 for ages 13-59, and $8 for those 60 and older,
and for children ages 3-12. Children 2 and under are free.
One also can purchase tickets online at CHSAANow.com.
A pep rally will be held at YHS, Thursday at 3 p.m. prior to the team heading out for Denver.