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Thunderbolts strike for Regional gold, state berth

Posted: Saturday, Nov 3rd, 2012

Sangre de Cristo senior Jessica Gilmore (7) attempts to tip the ball over the net in the first set of Friday's Regional match with the Rye Thunderbolts. The Thunderbirds finished second in the regional tournament. They are now waiting to hear if they are selected as a wild card and play in next week's state tournament. Courier Photo by Eric R. Flores

Courier Sports Editor

MOSCA—The Rye Lady Thunderbolts struck down the Del Norte Lady Tigers and the Sangre de Cristo Lady Thunderbirds in straight sets to capture the Class 2A Region E championship and an automatic berth to the 2012 State Volleyball Tournament at the Denver Coliseum next Friday and Saturday.

The Lady Thunderbirds finished in second place by defeating the Lady Tigers in the opening match of the tournament. They will now wait for the state bracket to be released on Sunday and hope that they are a wild card team selected to play for a state title.

The new system for Class 2A states that out of the eight regionals that are being held this weekend, the winner of each will be an automatic qualifier. The new addition to this is that four wildcard teams will be selected after the completion of the regional tournaments. Teams will be selected based on the MaxPrep Freeman Rankings.

“We are hoping we have enough points to give us a shot at the wild card bid,” said Thunderbird Head Coach Misti Lambert after Friday afternoon’s loss to Rye. “We played hard all season to push points in case we were in this situation so we can make it, we are hoping we did enough to make it.”

Thunderbirds def. Tigers in four

The first set of the tournament was a cross-Valley rivalry that pitted the No. 3 seeded Del Norte Lady Tigers against the host Lady Thunderbirds. The game started off with the two teams looking like they were on different pages, with the Tigers running out of the gate strong, but when the dust settled and the match was over, the Thunderbirds emerged with the critical victory.

The Lady Thunderbirds won the match in four sets. The set scores were 25-18, 21-25, 25-21 and 25-12.

The Lady Thunderbirds swept the season series. The Tigers, who started the season with a perfect 10-0 record, were handed their first loss of the season in three straight sets. The loss moved Del Norte to a 3-game losing streak before they came back. The Thunderbirds opened up the 2012 District 6 tournament with 5-set win over Del Norte.

Senior Kathryn New was the Tiger-killer in the fourth set of Friday’s win as she propelled the Lady Thunderbirds to an 8-point run and included three kills, two blocks and an ace in the final set.

The Lady Tigers were led by junior AJ Fresquez, who had at least 12 kills in the game.

The first set began with the Lady Tigers coming out with a 5-0 run before blocks by freshman Jenna McKinley and sophomore Heather Dieckman got the Lady Thunderbirds on the board.

Sangre de Cristo sophomore Allie Beiriger led the Lady Thunderbirds on a 12-point run to give them a 15-8 lead. Senior Kendra Neese and sophomore Abbey Stagner combined for six kills in the run.

The two teams then traded serving errors but ultimately the Lady Tigers tallied too many errors.

The second set was dominated by Del Norte as they opened up the lead to 11-4. In the set, Fresquez tallied five kills while senior Emmali Alexander tallied an ace and a kill.

Del Norte led for a majority of the third set, their biggest lead was eight when they led 13-5. The Lady Thunderbirds battled back and tied the game at 20 before took the lead and won the set 25-21.

Sangre de Cristo did not look back as New dominated and led Sangre de Cristo to a 25-12 set four win.

Rye dominates Del Norte, win in three

The Lady Thunderbolts’ confidence grew with each set as they ended up taking a 3-set win from the Del Norte Lady Tigers in the second match. They won with set scores of 25-12, 25-22 and 25-11.

The Tigers battled with the Lady Thunderbolts because they tied the opening set at six. Rye quickly doubled the score with the help of seniors Taylor Mansfield and Rylee Abert. The two combined for five kills as they ran away with a 25-12 win.

It looked as if the Lady Tigers would make a strong comeback and win the second game because junior Lindsay Jensen rallied off four aces and Del Norte took an 8-3 lead. Even being down Rye did not give up as they rallied back and rushed past to take a 25-22 win.

The third and final set was all Rye because they had a 12-point lead with the score 16-4. They allowed Del Norte to score some points, just not enough to get back into the game and the final set score was 25-11.

Rye sweeps Thunderbirds in three

A key injury hindered the hopes of Sangre de Cristo capturing the regional title and the Lady Thunderbolts failed to make many mistakes as they won by set scores of 25-22, 25-22 and 25-17.

The injury, which occurred in the second set, was to senior Kathryn New. When she was diving for a ball, her leg moved in the wrong way and she sprained her ankle and struggled to get to her feet. She left the game and did not return. She was replaced by senior Alex Carr.

“That was the first time she has seen varsity action this season,” said Lambert. “She elevated to the cause and handled the ball well, it’s a hard spot to follow after an injury like that and she was able to.”

The first game was an exciting one that had both teams lunging at ball and diving around for some digs and long rallies. The Lady Thunderbirds were able to keep pace the whole set until the Lady Thunderbolts went on a 5-0 run to make the score 18-13. The two teams then just matched each other until the end of the set.

Sangre de Cristo’s only lead came early in the second set when they led 2-1. Junior Anna Netzer and Jessica Lauritzen led the way for Rye as they had three kills and two aces respectively to help them win.

The final set was all Rye as they opened up a 19-7 lead, a lead that was too hard to overcome.

“I feel like it was a successful season so far,” said Lambert. “The team has grown up they have grown and adjusted to different teams.”

Class 2A Region A Tournament

LA JUNTA—The Sanford Indians were swept in both of their games in the Class 2A Region A Tournament here at Otero Junior College on Friday afternoon.

The eventual champion Swink Lions defeated the Indians in three straight sets 25-10, 25-18 and 25-13.

The Fowler Grizzlies defeated the then defeated the Indians in two sets, 25-14 and 25-13. The two teams only had to play a best-of-3 match because the match did not factor into the Regional Championship. Like the Lady Thunderbirds, the Indians must wait to see if they are a wild card team.

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