The Eads volleyball team under the direction of first-year head coach Ashley Gooden enjoyed their best season since 2013. Unfortunately, they were seeded into the Region 1 tournament hosted by Merino, the top team in the state. The Eads group played a strong semifinal game defeating Sangre de Cristo in 3 set scores of 25-11, 25-12 and 25-10.
They then took on Merino in the state-qualifying game and competed well but lost in three sets scores of 25-21, 25-14 and 25-16. Merino advanced to the 1A State Volleyball Tournament to be held at the Denver Coliseum this weekend on November 10-12 as the top-seeded team.
This year Gooden was able to develop four strong hitters and, as the season progressed, a number of defensive players and setters. In the first few side outs with Sangre de Cristo the Eads hitters had trouble keeping the ball inside the back line, but eventually they began to get in the rhythm of the game and found big success, particularly with the middle hitters in senior Maggie Haase and freshman Kara Wilson.
The Sangre de Cristo group called a time out after Haase had a big kill getting a 15-8 lead. Eads kept rolling when they came out of the time out as senior outside hitter Lisi Buller got a tip kill making the score 18-9. Wilson got two consecutive blocks at the net making the score 24-12. Freshman outside hitter Tailee Weeks-Johnson pounded out the final kill, 25-12.
Haase had a big second set for Eads as between her and Buller left the score at 15-2 before they rotated to the back. Wilson’s rotation in the front continued to cause issues for Sangre’s middle hitters as she and Weeks-Johnson continued to have success on the attack.
Sangre de Cristo was not a slouch team as they won the Southern Peaks League with a 5-0 record.
Eads had 38 kills and hit at a 32% success rate. They also added 5 ace serves and were 100% from the service line. The Eagles were also perfect in the serve receive department with no errors.
Haase led the team with 12 kills. Buller added 8 kills from the outside, while Weeks-Johnson and Wilson each had 7 kills.
Haase also added 3 ace serves and one block.
Buller added an ace and defensively dug up 20 balls.
Wilson added 2 blocks and 7 digs.
Aless Paez had 11 digs and distributed 29 assists to the four hitters.
Libero Katie Johnson picked up 18 digs.
The win advanced Eads to the state-qualifying match with Merino. The Eagles battled against the experience and dominance of the Sutter sisters including junior Makenna Sutter who had 31 kills in the match. She did it all except the setting adding 3 aces, 5 blocks and 25 digs. Sophomore Brooklyn Sutter had 43 assists in the contest for the Lady Rams.
Eads only managed 21 kills in the match hitting at a 22% success rate as the Ram defense was extremely efficient in picking up the Eagle attacks.
Haase had 13 kills in the contest hitting at a 34% rate and also added 2 blocks.
Wilson had 5 kills, 1 ace and 1 block.
Weeks-Johnson had 2 kills and 21 digs.
Paez added 13 digs and 16 assists.
Johnson had 14 digs, Lexi Shotton added 8 digs, Brianna Habinck finished with 6 digs.
With the end of the 2022 season Coach Gooden will lose four seniors off the varsity team to graduation.
Gooden said, “I am very proud of this group of girls. We set a pretty high goal of going to state and barely fell short. We grew as players and as a team our first year together and the girls made it an enjoyable year as we battled to compete all season long. The seniors were instrumental during this season. I enjoyed getting to know them and seeing them grow as individuals. I hope they take the same mindset they had in volleyball of working hard, not giving up and controlling their attitude and effort into their future endeavors. I will miss having them next year.”
Of those seniors, Maggie Haase led the team in multiple categories including kills (227), aces (68), blocks (55), hitting percentage (.275%) and kills per set.
Senior Lisi Buller was a leading outside hitter despite struggling throughout the season with a knee injury. Her gutsy performance will be missed as she contributed 155 kills and 47 ace serves.
Samantha Courkamp played a number of positions for the Eads team and was a strong leader. She was second on the team in assists with 257. Habinck came on strong midway through the season and contributed in a number of roles including as a strong blocker at the net, a setter, an outside hitter, and a defensive player.
Eads will return 6 players with varsity experience, a handful of junior varsity players, and a number of 8th graders who were key players on the Eads Middle School undefeated volleyball team.