Swink junior Lindsey Tatum (15) tries to get a kill, however, Sangre de Cristo freshman Jenna McKinley (19) and senior Kendra Neese (5) make a block on the play.
Courier Sports Editor
DENVER—The 2012 volleyball season ended on Friday evening for the Sangre de Cristo Thunderbirds as they lost both of their pool play games of the 2012 Colorado High School State Volleyball Tournament and finished the season with a 21-5 record. They took the No. 2 seeded team in the state to five sets before being swept by the No. 7 seeded Paonia Eagles in three straight sets.
The Sangre de Cristo Thunderbirds, who entered the tournament as the No. 11 seed, had an uphill battle facing tough Swink Lions team, that entered the tournament with a 20-3 record. The Thunderbirds, who are coached by Misty Lambert in her first year as Sangre coach, had not beaten a team that qualified for the tournament.
As a school, Sangre de Cristo owned eight tournament wins in school history, all since 2005. Their last appearance was in 2009 when they lost in semifinals to Fowler, their third trip to the semifinals (2005 and 2007).
Thunderbirds in five
It took five sets before the No. 2 seeded Swink Lions could ground the Sangre de Cristo Thunderbirds in the Pool 2 opener. The Thunderbirds took the second and third sets and nearly won the first before Lion senior outside hitter Madison Stewart notched three kills in the final set to effectively remove the Thunderbirds from title contention.
The Lions won with set scores of 25-23, 19-25, 25-12, 16-25 and 16-6.
The Lions came out swinging in the first set as Stewert and Lion junior outside hitter Lindsey Tatum notched two kills apiece.
Sophomore outside hitter Abbey Stagner got the Thunderbirds back in the game and tied it at four with a block and a kill. That’s when junior defensive specialist Joselyna Gallegoes started serving for the Lions. As a team, the Lions rallied off on a 12-3 run and expanded their lead to 16-7.
The Thunderbird front line really stood tall and they rallied back and eventually tied the score at 21. In the run to tie the game at 21, Stagner tallied a kill and a block, senior outside hitter Kendra Neese tallied three kills and an ace and senior middle blocker Jessica Gilmore had two blocks and a kill.
The Thunderbirds continued to look good, however, they shot themselves in the foot with two attack errors and severing errors sandwiched around kills by senior Kathryn New, who was playing after suffering an injury during last weekend’s regional championship game, to give Swink a 25-23 win.
After falling behind 3-0 in the second set, the Thunderbirds soared past Swink to take a 10-4 lead. Freshman Jenna McKinley led the charge in the first ten points with two kills. That didn’t scare off the Lions though. They raced back and tried the score at 13, 15, 16 and 17 before four kills and a block by Stagner helped them go on a 8-2 run to get the 25-19 set win.
In the set, New rested and because of that, freshman outside hitter Karleigh Cooley got playing time where she had a critical kill to tie the game at 16.
The third set was completely controlled by the Lions after they opened with an 8-0 run. Despite Stagner chipping in a block and a kill and McKinley adding another kill, they could not break the momentum and Swink got a 25-12 win to take a 2-1 set lead in the match.
Swink relaxed just a little too much in the fourth set allowing the Thunderbirds to capitalize and take a 7-2 lead after two Gilmore kills and a kill by Stagner, McKinley and Stagner.
The Lions refocused their effort and they went on a 6-0 run to take an 8-7 lead. That lead would not last as several errors by the front three went out of bounds. The Thunderbirds used the killing errors to their advantage as they won the set, 25-16, on a net violation.
After being so energized for tying the match at two, the Thunderbirds came out flat and could not do anything to stop the Lions. Gallegoes took the ball with the score 5-3 and she did not relinquish control until after seven points had been scored. Even though they were down 12-3, Stagner added two kills and sophomore setter Heather Dieckman had a kill to make the final score 15-6.
Eagles sweep past Thunderbirds
The second game of the Pool No. 2 proved that the 5-set match between the Lions and Thunderbirds took a lot out of Sangre de Cristo because even though they were able to keep pace with the Eagles through most of the game, they were unable to go over the hump and win a set.
The Eagles won with sets scores of 26-24, 25-20 and 25-18.
The first set was a back-and-forth battle between the two teams, despite the Thunderbirds opening up a 12-8 lead in the middle. The Eagles came back with their hard spikes for kills. As a team, the Eagles tallied 14 kills including three in a row by Paonia senior middle hitter Ce’erra Carsten in the later part of the set. New led the Thunderbird effort with three kills of her own in the set. A kill by freshman outside hitter Taylor Carsten had sealed the 26-24 set one win.
Like the first set, the two teams traded scores over and over again with the score being tied four times before the Eagles went on a 6-point run to pull away with a 16-10 lead. McKinley and Stagner did not allow the Eagles to pull away too far because they each had two kills to bring the Thunderbirds back to a tie at 18 forcing the Eagles to call a timeout. The Eagles then closed out the set by capitalizing on errors by Sangre de Cristo.
Like the other two, the third set started off quickly only for the Eagles to fly away with a 4-point run to make the score 16-12.That was a lead they would not relinquish as they went on to a 25-18 sweep.