Indians stay perfect in 2A regional
They did it again, last Friday in The Pit; the Yuma High School volleyball team won a regional title for the sixth consecutive year.
It earned them their sixth consecutive trip to the Class 2A State Tournament, Friday and Saturday at the Denver Coliseum.
Seniors Avery Whitehead, Kenedy Roth and Kyle Rayl were in seventh grade when the streak began (an insight attributed to the KNEC Radio Twitter feed). The seniors who helped start it all now are in their 20s, moving well ahead into adult life.
“No it doesn’t get old,” coach Jenny Noble said. She was the assistant coach when the streak began in 2012, and has been the head coach since. “I shouldn’t say we’ve ‘only’ won one (state title) the whole time, but we’ve had this building up over five years.”
Yuma improved to 12-0 in 2A regional matches since joining the classification in 2010-11.
Last Friday was the fifth straight year in which the Tribe hosted a regional in The Pit. (The streak began with an epic comeback at Resurrection Christian on its homecourt in 2012.)
It mostly went according to form last Friday, though there were some anxious moments before the Indians finally dispatched Dayspring Christian in four sets in the day’s final match, somewhat avenging last year’s loss to Dayspring in the 2A championship match.
The day began with Yuma taking on Haxtun, which finished third in the previous week’s District 2 Tournament. The two are quite familiar with each other, both being in the Lower Platte Activities Association, though they did not meet in district.
The whole affair had the feeling of simply waiting for the inevitable.
Haxtun kept it close early in the first set, tied 7-7, but Yuma began to pull away with five consecutive points with Whitehead at the service line, forcing Haxtun into timeouts with 15-8 and 21-10 leads before going on to a 25-11 win.
The second set definitely was methodical, with Yuma claiming a 25-15 win.
The Indians took charge immediately in the third set, forging a 6-1 lead, and were ahead 22-9 when Noble emptied the bench on the way to a match-clinching 25-14 win.
Chasey Blach hit .429 while collecting 19 kills, Cody Robinson had nine, Avery Whitehead five, Roth three, Taylor Hansen two and Reagan Nolin one. Roth had 30 setting assists, and Nolin four. Hansen and Blach each were in on four blocks, Robinson three, and Roth and Nolin two each. Rayl had 19 digs, Robinson 15, Roth 14 and Nolin 11. Robinson was 17-17 on serve receive, Rayl 14-14, and Nolin 5-5. Rayl was 19-19 serving, Roth 13-13 with one ace, Nolin 12-12, Whitehead 8-10 with three aces, Robinson 8-9 with an ace, Blach 6-8 with one ace, and Tania Morales 2-3.
Haxtun returned to the floor a short time later to take on Dayspring, and seemed to be a different team. With an extra bounce in their step, the Bulldogs pushed Dayspring through close losses through the first two sets. They then picked up a hard-fought win in the third before Dayspring finally closed out the match with another close win in the fourth.
All that extra work by the Eagles certainly did not hurt the Indians’ cause, who were able t
o sit and watch the entertaining middle match.
Dayspring lost a lot of key players from last year’s 2A title team, but returned their two big hitters in seniors Katie Kurz and Megan Roberts. The two can lower the boom like very few others in the 2A ranks.
However, the Indians got two big blocks on Roberts early in the first set while quickly building leads of 7-1 and 12-2.
It was thorough domination as the Tribe cruised to a 25-12 win.
However, it became decidedly tougher after that, as Yuma trailed 1-4 and 6-10 in the second set before rallying for a 12-11 lead. Yuma led 14-11 when Roberts left the court with an injury, but led just 20-19 when she returned to the cheers of the Dayspring contingent.
However, the Indians went on to prevail 25-21 for a commanding 2-0 lead.
Yuma fell behind again in the third set, 7-12, but rallied behind some big kills by Robinson, who was playing while ill. The set remained tight the rest of the way, but the Indians started struggling with serves, passes and kill attempts, and the Eagles rallied to hand Yuma a 23-25 loss.
Dayspring took the lead again in the fourth set, 11-6, but the Indians finally settled down and rallied, with a big block at the net giving them their first lead at 17-16.
It was all Yuma from there as the Indians claimed a clinching 25-17 win, setting off a celebration on The Pit’s floor.
“We had hit the ball out, our serve receive was off, and it just cost us,” Noble said. “We were struggling with our passing, which led to us struggling with our hitting.
“We can’t have that, especially after a totally-dominating first set,” she continued. “That’s not going to get it done.”
Well, the Indians have four days of practice this week to find that ultimate effort that could lead to a state title.
Robinson hit .435 while recording 24 kills, and Blach had 22 kills, Whitehead five, Hansen four, and Roth three. Roth had 54 setting assists. Blach and Whitehead were in on three blocks each, Hansen two and Nolin one. Rayl had 23 digs, and Robinson 21. Nolin was 30-30 serving with one ace, Blach 16-17 with three aces, Robinson 14-15 with one ace, Roth 13-13 with one ace, Rayl 13-16 with two aces, and Whitehead 6-6. The Indians uncharacteristically had seven serve-receive errors, which led to some struggles.
Nevertheless, the Indians claimed the regional plaque for the sixth consecutive year. They also have won district five straight times, the LPAA regular season four years in a row, have reached the state semifinals the past four seasons, and the past three state championship matches.
“Being district champions and regional champions makes our goal to win state, not just get there,” Noble said. “That’s where our talents should take us.”