CENTENNIAL | The Eaglecrest volleyball team grew up before coach Tanya Bond’s eyes in the span of a weekend.
The Raptors’ youthful lineup showed plenty of rough spots in the first two matches of the season and even on the first day of the Eaglecrest Invitational.
So Bond was nothing short of “shocked” when Eaglecrest captured the championship of its own tournament Saturday with a 25-20, 25-23 victory over Class 4A powerhouse Cheyenne Mountain. Led by a trio of all-tournament selections in seniors Jordyn Poulter and Kalee Maricle and sophomore Rachael Perrine, the Raptors (5-1) won all four of their matches to take their own tournament for the first time since 2012.
The championship match had its share of challenges, especially in the second game.
Eaglecrest never trailed by more than one point in the opening game and finished off a 25-20 victory on a put away by middle Dez Zeigler on a set up from Poulter. The Indians rose to the occasion early in the second set behind explosive outside hitter Emily Wayne and the service of Jenna Price.
In really the only large streak of momentum in the entire match, Cheyenne Mountain ran off eight straight points with Price serving, which turned a 5-3 deficit into an 11-5 advantage. The lead reached seven on back-to-back Wayne kills before the Raptors chipped away at the deficit.
Bond’s team trailed 21-16 late in the game and the Indians pushed strongly to extend the match to a third game. But some timely work at the net by Maricle and a couple of Cheyenne Mountain errors eventually knotted it up at 22-22. Poulter set up Maricle and Perrine for back-to-back kills and after the Indians got a point back to close within 24-23, Poulter again set up Maricle for the game-winner.
Prior to the championship match, the Raptors got a measure of revenge for an opening match loss to Pine Creek with a 25-22, 27-25 victory over the Eagles in the bracket play semifinals following a 2-0 pool play showing.
Grandview (5-3) — the 2013 tournament champion — lost to Cheyenne Mountain in the bracket play semifinals, but coach Patty Childress’ team dispatched Pine Creek 25-21, 25-11 to claim third place.
Senior Haley McLaren joined the Eaglecrest trio and two Cheyenne Mountain players on the all-tournament team.
McLaren racked up double-digit kills in four of the Wolves’ five matches in the tournament, missing the mark only in a match against Aurora Central in which she played just one set and recorded six kills. Her highest mark of 14 kills came in Grandview’s loss to Cheyenne Mountain.
Aurora Central dropped pool play matches to Grandview, Denver East and Eaton, the fifth-place finisher.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel. IG: Auroraprepsentinel
2014 EAGLECREST VOLLEYBALL INVITATIONAL
Championship match: Eaglecrest def. Cheyenne Mountain 25-20, 25-23
Third-place match: Grandview def. Pine Creek 25-21, 25-11
Fifth-place match: Eaton def. Fossil Ridge 25-15, 22-25, 15-6
Seventh-place match: Brighton def. Mountain Vista 25-21, 25-19