• Wiley Goes 2-2 in 1A State Volleyball Tournament
Wiley's Wayttyn Wollert (#7) and Fatima Gomez (#11).
Nita Walls

Wiley Goes 2-2 in 1A State Volleyball Tournament

By John Contreras

2021-11-17 07:11:40

The volleyball season didn’t end the way the Wiley Panthers had hoped for in the Class 1A Colorado State Volleyball Championships held Nov. 11-13 at The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs.

Wiley finished with a 2-2 record at state and capped an emotional season with a 22-4 overall record.

The Lady Panthers rode the leadership of three seniors Demi Wollert (setter/middle and outside hitter), Lupita Marquez (hitter/defensive specialist), and Grace Pendleton (hitter).

Wollert entered the state tourney as the leading hitter for Wiley with 136 kills and had 39 aces to her credit.

Pendleton had 77 kills and led the team with 42 blocks heading to Colorado Springs.

They were joined by junior Fatima Gomez (outside/middle hitter), junior Jackie Salgado (defensive specialist), junior Grace White (hitter), junior Wayttyn Wollert (middle hitter), and sophomore Johanna Brown (middle hitter/blocker), who saw playing time at state.

Gomez was the second leading hitter with 122 kills and paced the team in aces with 52 going in the state tournament.

Salgado led the team in digs with 262 and followed by Gomez with 175 and D. Wollert with 152.

In assists, D. Wollert had 191 and White with 190.

No. 5 seed Wiley won its first match of the tournament against a familiar opponent in No. 12 Genoa-Hugo/Karval and posted a three-set victory 25-12, 25-23, 25-20 on Thursday.

Later in the day, Wiley would take on a formidable opponent in defending state champion and the No. 4 seed Merino Lady Rams.

The Lady Rams swept the match in three games by the scores of 25-19, 25-17, 25-23 and sparked by their outstanding hitter in senior Taysa Conger.

Conger went into the tournament with 490 kills to her credit while Makenna Sutter, a sophomore, followed with 330 kills and 90 aces.

The third set was a see-saw battle between the two teams.

Wiley held a 6-3 lead in the set before Merino fought back to tie the game at 6-6 and 7-7.

Merino moved out to leads of 10-7 and 11-9 lead before Wiley evened the score at 11-11.

A service error by Wiley gave the Lady Rams a 12-11 lead.

From there, Merino held a two-point lead until Wiley battled back from a 20-17 deficit to tie the match at 20-20 behind a kill by White and two service points from Gomez.

The Lady Rams went ahead 21-20 before a kill by Pendleton knotted the score at 21-21.

Merino held a 23-21 lead after a kill by D. Wollert cut it to 23-22.

A kill by Cogner and another kill by Pendleton made it 24-23 in favor of Merino.

With Merino at the service line, Sutter scored the match point on a her fifth kill of the set.

Merino went on to claim its second straight state championship.

The Lady Rams defeated No. 1 seed Briggsdale, 3-0, in the quarterfinals and won a five-setter against No. 3 Haxtun, 3-2, the semifinals.

In the match for the 2021 state crown, Merino faced a rematch with Fleming who they defeated in a 3-2 marathon for the state title in the spring during Season C.

It took Merino four sets to beat the No. 2 seed Wildcats (25-21, 25-9, 18-25, and 25-18).

Merino capped the season with a 24-5 record.

Wiley would bounce back to make short work of No. 11 Belleview Christian in three sets (25-14, 25-12, 25-17) in the elimination bracket on Friday morning to stay alive in the tournament.

D. Wollert came to play and had 13 kills in the match. Wiley had 31 kills as a team.

On Friday evening, the Lady Panthers went up against No. 9 Dove Creek, a team they never played before.

The two teams battled through a tough five-set thriller before Dove Creek came out on top by the scores of 18-25, 25-17, 25-23, 16-25, and 18-16.

Trailing two sets to one, Wiley fought back to win the fourth set in impressive fashion.

It was a see-saw battle early in the fourth set before the Lady Panthers pushed ahead by 11 points.

Leading 16-10, Gomez served five straight points to give her team a 21-10 advantage. In that run, Pendleton scored on a block and then followed with a kill. Gomez came through with an ace serve and then the Lady Panthers scored on block. The fifth point came on a kill by Wollert.

Dove Creek cut Wiley’s lead to 24-16 before the Lady Panthers scored the game point on a kill by Gomez.

With the season on the line in the fifth set, the two teams battled tooth-and-nail for every point.

The set was tied at 5-5, 9-9, and 12-12 before Wiley scored two straight points on serves by Gomez to grab a 14-12 lead.

A service error by Gomez made it 14-13 and Dove Creek would tie the set at 14-14.

Wiley regained a 15-14 lead on a hit by Wollert before the Lady Bulldogs tied it at 15-all.

Kylie Gatlin, a sophomore hitter went to work for Dove Creek.

The Lady Bulldogs would outscore the Lady Panthers, 3-1, down the stretch behind the hitting of Gatlin to prevail 18-16.

Gatlin headed to state with 224 kills to her credit.

Even though the season ended on a bitter note, the Wiley team played their hearts out in what has been an emotional time for the school and the community.

Five Wiley students, including volleyball team member Cait Zordel a sophomore, all lost their lives in a tragic September car crash.

“This has definitely been one of the hardest seasons and hardest school year for us, for sure,” Wiley head coach Melissa Larrick said in an article by Brad Cochi/CHSAANow.com. “We bring Cait’s jersey with us to our matches and she still sits on our bench. My girls feel like that’s a good way to continue to honor her.”

With the season now in the books, Larrick had nothing but praise for her team with the adversity they had to endure.

“Words will never express how proud I am of each of them!” she said. “This year/season has been hard, probably the hardest three months of their lives. And yet, here we were…working together as a team, playing for something more, battling point for point.”

“It didn’t end the way we wanted and there were lots of tears,” added Larrick. “But, how lucky are we…to love something so much that it brings us to tears when it ends. To love teammates so much, that knowing it was the last time we played together made us sad. It sounds heartbreaking, but in reality we truly are blessed.”


Thursday, Nov. 11

  • #9 Dove Creek def. #8 Cheraw: 21-25, 27-25, 19-25, 25-20, 15-13
  • #5 Wiley def. #12 Genoa-Hugo/Karval: 25-12, 25-23, 25-20
  • #6 Stratton def. #11 Belleview Christian: 25-14, 25-13, 25-19
  • #10 Flatirons Academy def. #7 Idalia: 21-25, 25-22, 25-15, 15-16

Winner’s bracket

  • Match 17–#1 Briggsdale def. #9 Dove Creek: 25-15, 25-19, 25-16
  • Match 18–#4 Merino def. #5 Wiley: 25-19, 25-17, 25-23
  • Match 19–#3 Haxtun def. #6 Stratton: 19-25, 9-25, 25-20, 25-20, 15-13
  • Match 20–#2 Fleming def. #10 Flatirons Academy: 25-14, 25-22, 25-21

Friday, Nov. 12

  • Match 9 – Cheraw def. Flatirons Academy: 25-21, 25-20, 24-26, 25-17
  • Match 10 – Stratton def. Genoa-Hugo/Karval: 25-13, 16-25, 23-25, 25-10, 15=8
  • Match 13 – Wiley def. Belleview Christian: 25-14, 25-12, 25-17
  • Match 14 – Dove Creek def. Idalia: 25-19, 25-18, 19-25, 27-25

Winner’s Bracket

  • Match 25 – Merino def. Briggsdale: 25-13, 25-20, 25-19
  • Match 26 – Fleming def. Haxtun, 25-9, 20-25, 25-20, 25-23

Elimination Bracket

  • Stratton def. Cheraw: 25-13, 16-25, 23-25, 25-10, 15-8
  • Dove Creek def. Wiley: 18-25, 25-17, 25-23, 16-25, 18-16.

Saturday, Nov. 13

Elimination bracket semifinals

  • Briggsdale def. Stratton: 25-13, 25-22, 20-25, 25-7
  • Haxtun def. Dove Creek: 25-22, 25-17, 27-25

Championship semifinals

  • Merino def. Haxtun: 25-21, 25-20, 25-27, 23-25, 15-4
  • Fleming def. Briggsdale: 24-26, 25-15, 26-28, 25-17, 15-12

Championship match

  • Merino def. Fleming: 25-21, 25-9, 18-25, 25-16


  • Class 1A – Merino def. Fleming, 3-1 (25-21, 25-9, 18-25, 25-16)
  • Class 2A – Sedgwick County def. Holyoke, 3-1 (25-10, 23-25, 25-23, 25-20)
  • Class 3A – University def. Lamar, 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-17)
  • Class 4A – Thompson Valley def. Cheyenne Mountain, 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-21)
  • Class 5A – Cherry Creek def. Grandview, 3-1 (27-25, 26-28, 25-17, 25-14)

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