It was an emotional three-day rollercoaster ride for the Lamar Thunder in the Class 3A Colorado State Volleyball Championships held Nov. 10-12 at the Denver Coliseum.
For the second straight year, the Lamar High School volleyball team was denied the opportunity to bring home the school’s first-ever state volleyball championship.
Lamar and Platte Valley went toe-to-toe for this year’s state championship on Saturday night at the Denver Coliseum.
Those same two teams squared off in the state tournament last year when Lamar beat the Broncos in the state semifinals in a grueling five-set match.
The rematch was more of the same as the two teams battled in a tremendous five-set showdown.
Platte Valley claimed the title with a 16-14 victory in the decisive fifth set.
The 16-14 win was the same score that denied the Broncos the opportunity to play in last year’s state title match.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Lamar veteran head coach Dave Tecklenburg said his team overcame some adversity to earn their shot for the state title.
“With everything we went through last week, I am very proud of our team,” Tecklenburg said. “We had the stomach flu and cold stuff running through our team. On Tuesday, we had over a third of our team out.”
“The effort from the kids at the state tournament was phenomenal,” he lauded. “For the kids to feel the way they did and still come out and perform was something special. I am very proud of our season and what they accomplished. My hat goes off to Platte Valley as they made two more plays than we did in the fifth game and got us.”
“Two of the last three seasons we beat them by two points in the fifth game, so I guess they were due to get one from us,” Tecklenburg noted. “Obviously, there is a lot of disappointment that comes with getting second place two years in a row. But I am sure there are a bunch of teams that would trade places with us.”
Looking back at what Lamar has accomplished on the court has been astonishing.
“As I look back at the past two seasons the kids are 57-3, with all three losses coming to Final Four teams,” added Tecklenburg. “I can’t say enough of how proud I am of our kids and how much of an honor and pleasure it was to coach them. We have great kids in Lamar and I am happy that I had the opportunity to be a small part of their lives.”
As expected, the two teams battled for every single point on every single play.
In the first set, the Thunder outlasted the Broncos, 30-28.
The two teams fought through 14 ties.
With the score tied at 27-27, a kill by the Broncos regained them the lead 28-27.
A kill by Lamar’s star hitter senior Sydney Dunning tied the game at 28-28.
With Danika Flower at the line, Dunning responded with two kills to earn the winning points for Lamar.
The Broncos rallied to win the second set 25-20 and also take the third set 25-21.
With their backs against the wall, the Thunder stayed in contention to take the fourth set 25-19.
In the winner take all fifth set, Lamar found themselves down 10-4 before the Thunder got rolling.
With Dunning back on the front row, the Thunder responded to score four straight points to climb back in the game and deadlock the score at 14-14.
With sophomore Brooklyn Robbins at the service line, Dunning hammered back-to-back kills to draw her team to within 14-12.
Robbins then served an ace to give here team the lead, 14-13.
Following a time out by the Broncos, Dunning slammed another critical kill to tie the game at 14-14 as the pressure was mounting for both teams.
Platte Valley ended the run with a kill to make it 15-14.
With the serve in the hands of Platte Valley, the Broncos scored the match point on a stuff block to end the match.
The win for Platte Valley (26-5) earned the program its 15th state volleyball championship for the most in Colorado High School history.
The last state crown for the Broncos came in 2003.
No statistics were available for Lamar, but Dunning ended the match with over 30 kills but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.
Tecklenburg was denied a state championship for a third time in his coaching career, and it wasn’t how they wanted to end a tremendous season.
The Thunder have nothing to hang their heads about and they had a great run in this year’s state tournament.
Lamar suffered its first loss of the season to Resurrection Christian 27-25, 20-25, 21-25, and 22-25 in the second round on Thursday.
In the elimination bracket, the Thunder bounced back with four straight victories including winning the first three matches in three sets.
Lamar defeated Delta (25-18, 25-18, 25-15), Faith Christian (25-17, 25-16, 25-13), and earned sweet revenge against University (25-22, 25-23, 25-21).
University was a team that dashed Lamar’s state title aspirations twice from past state tournaments including last year.
In the state semifinals on Saturday afternoon, Lamar faced a rematch with Resurrection Christian and gained revenge with a 3-1 victory.
The Cougars came out and won the first set 25-16 but from there Lamar steadily took control and won three straight sets by the scores of 25-19, 25-16, and 25-19.
In the fifth set, Lamar was clinging to a 20-18 lead when they scored two straight points to gain some breathing room with a 22-18 lead.
A service error by Lamar made it 22-19 but the Thunder got the point back on a service error by the Cougars to gain a 23-19 lead.
With Kinley Reedy at the service line, Lamar took a 24-19 lead and earned the match point on a kill by Brooklyn Robbins as the team broke into a big celebration.
Dunning was not going to be denied in the semifinals as she paved the way with 23 kills and 4 ace serves.
B. Robbins also had a big match with 13 kills while Anna Ramirez added 6 kills to lead the Thunder hitting attack.
Resurrection Christian ended the season with a 20-9 record.
Despite another heartbreaking loss in the state title match, the team represented Lamar with class and dignity.
The players have nothing to hang their heads about as they played their hearts out and gave their fans a ride to remember.
The Thunder will say goodbye to three super seniors in Sydney Dunning, Abby Robbins, and Kinley Reedy and wish the best of luck to them in the future.
Dunning recently signed to continue her volleyball career for the California State University, Bakersfield Roadrunners.
A good nucleus returns for Lamar next year and it will be wait and see on how the season rolls for the Thunder.