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KIT CARSON WILDCATS REGION 10 CHAMPIONS - (Senior players front row l to r) Ana Randel, Karlene Butler, Nadaya Buttry, Payge Rady, and Lindsey Mayhan. (Back row) Ava Oswald (mgr), Tressie Golding (mgr.), Asst. Coach Tanaia Hansen, Head Coach Jasmine Jacobs, Braylin Jackson, Shay Rady, Chasity Echols, Avery Johnson, Ashlee Koch, Asst. Coach McKenzie Stewart, Elizabeth Kent (mgr.) - Not pictured Jolie Oswald (mgr).
Sammie Johnson

On to State! The Cats and the Birds Headed to Denver

By Betsy Barnett and John Contreras

November 10, 2023

The Hi-Plains League is sending three teams to the 1A Colorado State Volleyball Tournament including McClave, Kit Carson, and Cheraw.

The McClave Lady Cardinals (22-2) have been ranked in the top three all season and will enter the state tournament as #3 in the bracket after defeating Sangre de Cristo in the Region 3 tournament last weekend.

The McCLAVE LADY CARDINALS VOLLEYBALL TEAM captured the Region 3 championship and in the process earned a trip to the Class 1A Colorado State Volleyball Championships to be held on Nov. 9-11 at the Denver Coliseum.In the second round, #3 seed McClave (22-2) will face the winner between #6 Idalia (19-4) and #11 Weldon Valley (16-8) in Match 19 at 5 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. McCLAVE TEAM MEMBERS AND COACHES INCLUDE:Front row, l-r, Itzelle Chacon, Kristen Marks, McKayla Kiniston, Ashlynn Steinbrunn, and Addiston Vallejos. Nita Walls

The Cardinals are on a mission at the state tournament as they lost in the 1A State Tournament championship to Merino, 3-0, a year ago. They would like to get another chance at that gold ball as Merino is again sitting in the driver’s seat for 2023.

Kit Carson just keeps making the trip to the state tournament as they have appeared in 7 of 8 state tournaments including a Back-2-Back championship run in 2017 and 2018. Last year, the Wildcats were 1-2 in the state tournament.

McClave Lady Cardinals Punch Tickets to 1A State Volleyball Tournament

By John Contreras

The McClave Lady Cardinals volleyball team is headed back to the Class 1A Colorado State Volleyball Championships for the second consecutive year.

#3 seed McClave hosted the #22 seed Sangre de Cristo Thunderbirds in the state-qualifying Region 3 Tournament held on Friday afternoon (Nov. 3).

It was total domination by McClave especially in the first two sets as the Lady Cardinals posted a clean sweep over the visitors by the scores of 25-7, 25-8, and 25-17.

“We played really well the first two sets working together,” praised McClave head coach Melissa Steinbrunn. “By the time we got to the third set, we saw a lull set in because we weren’t locked in and focused. But I think they realized it and picked it up and finished.”

The Lady Cardinals put on a serving clinic behind the likes of Ashlynn Steinbrunn (10 aces) and Avery Hemphill (7 aces).

Abrielle Gomez led the attack at the net with 13 kills.

McKayla Kiniston and Hemphill followed with 5 kills each. Emily Melgoza had 4 kills, and Steinbrunn had 3.

Makayla Phillips and Kiniston combined for 22 assists with 12 and 10 respectively.

On defense, Hemphill paved the way with 10 digs. Kiniston and Steinbrunn followed with 8 digs each while Phillips added 5 and Gomez 3.

In the first set, McClave was leading 9-4 when Steinbrunn stepped to the line and serve an amazing seven straight aces to extend her team’s lead to 16-4 before she served in the net to end the run.

With McClave ahead 18-6, Emily Melgoza served three consecutive points including two aces to give the Lady Cardinals a 21-6 lead before an McClave error made it 21-7.

McClave got the serve back on a kill by Melgoza for a 22-7 lead.

Avery Hemphill came to the service line where she served three straight points for the win. The final two points came on kills by Gomez.

In the second set, the Lady Cardinals led from start to finish.

McClave was ahead 6-3 when the Lady Cardinals went on an 8-0 run with Phillips at the service line.

Leading 20-8, Steinbrunn was at the service line where she served five straight points including four aces.

The game point came on a kill by MaKayla Kiniston.

In the third set, McClave lost some of its momentum and had to rally for the victory.

The score was tied three times early in the set before Sangre de Cristo took 6-5 lead and were ahead 17-13 when McClave made a run.

A kill by Hemphill made it 17-14 for a side out.

The talented freshman then stepped to the service line where she would serve an incredible 11 straight points including seven ace serves to spark her team to the victory and a trip to state.

It was only fitting that a kill by Gomez was the perfect way to put the finishing touches to the victory.

McClave (22-2) turns its full attention to the Colorado State Volleyball Championships in all classifications that runs Nov. 9-11 at the Denver Coliseum.

The Kit Carson Wildcats, and Cheraw Wolverines also won their respective regional tournaments to punch their tickets to the state tournament.

Each bracket at state is an Olympic Crossover format, which means that teams will play in a double-elimination bracket in order to qualify for the semifinals. Once the semifinal round has been reached, the tournament becomes a single-elimination format.

“While I’m not the biggest fan of the new system, I understand the reasoning behind the change. It protects the ranking of the top four while ensuring that there will be no repeats of regional championships in the state,” said Coach Steinbrunn.

#3 seed McClave received a bye in the first round and faced the winner between #6 Idalia (19-4) and #11 Weldon Valley (16-8) in Match 19 at 5 p.m. on Thursday. The Lady Cards advanced on Thursday with a 3-1 win over #11 Weldon Valley after having a scary set #3. The Cards will play the winner of Stratton (#2) and Briggsdale (#7).

“We are extremely excited to be heading back up to the state tournament,” Coach Steinbrunn said, “We have worked very hard in the last two years to revamp our game because we have had our sites on very specific goals.

“There was certainly a lot of pressure to perform at the regional championship this year, but I’m proud of how our team showed up. It was a fun day and they certainly lived up to the expectations that they have set for themselves.

“We now look to the state tournament. We still feel like the new kids on the block, as most of the teams in the field typically find themselves in the bracket each year, but I think we are more comfortable than we were last year.

“As much as we want to take in the experience and enjoy every minute of it, we have deemed this a business trip because we have a job to accomplish. It won’t be easy. The bracket is filled with amazing teams from all over the state.

“It is no secret that the path to the championship is going to be an uphill battle, but we’re excited for the opportunity. We have a competitive group of athletes and a cohesive team. We are definitely looking forward to this weekend.”

Kit Carson Volleyball Tradition Carries Them to Another 1A State Volleyball Tournament

By Betsy Barnett

Kit Carson has a winning tradition in volleyball that was set by longtime coach Penny Isenbart in the many years she coached the Wildcats culminating with a state runner-up in 2016 and then Back-2-Back State Championship titles in 2017 and 2018. Isenbart left soon after and current coach Jasmine Jacobs picked up the torch and kept it burning bright as the Wildcats have been at state now four of the last five years.

This year has been up and down for Jacobs and the Wildcats, but in the end the strong winning tradition of the Wildcat program came through when they needed it against La Veta in the Region 10 tournament last week. Kit Carson traveled to La Veta for one game and all the marbles and came away with a 3-0 victory in set scores of 25-20, 25-22, 25-19.

The Wildcats used 30 team kills and 6 ace serves to attack La Veta and ultimately overcome their home town advantage.

Senior middle hitter Payge Booker-Rady led the way for the Wildcats with 10 kills, while senior middle Lindsey Mayhan added 5 kills.

Shay Rady and Nadaya Buttry each pounded down 4 kills apiece to round out the offensive attack for Kit Carson.

The service line was controlled by freshman Avery Johnson who dropped in 3 aces, while Shay Rady added 2 ace serves, and Booker-Rady had one more.

Shay Rady led the way contributing 20 assists to her multiple hitters.

Defensively, Mayhan was a threat on the net with 3 blocks, while Shay Rady, Johnson, and Ashlee Koch each added one block apiece.

The Wildcats were also able to pick up multiple La Veta attacks including 9 digs coming from Johnson, and 8 digs apiece from Booker-Rady, Buttry, and Shay Rady.

The Wildcats will depend on their leaders to come through in what is stacking up to be a tough tournament. The senior middles, Booker-Rady and Mayhan, lead the way in the kills department with 227 for Mayhan and 185 for Booker-Rady.

The two middles, Booker-Rady and Mayhan, also control the Wildcat defense at the net with Booker-Rady accounting for 50 blocks, while Mayhan adds 31 blocks.

Two youngsters lead the way from the service line with freshman Avery Johnson dropping in 64 ace serves during the city and Shay Rady has 44 ace serves.

Kit Carson (#12, 14-10) took on Otis (#5, 17-6) on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 9:30 am in the first round of the 1A State Tournament in Denver. They would lose 3-1 in set scores of 25-22, 25-20, 10-25, and 25-18. At press time they were scheduled to play Weldon Valley (#11) after McClave beat them, 3-1, later in the day on Thursday.

Volleyball Bracket & Thursday Results

State Volleyball Tournament

November 9, 10, 11

First Round – Nov. 9

Game A

#8 Dove Creek (22-2) defeated #9 Haxtun (17-7) – 3-2

Game B

#5 Otis (17-6) defeated #12 Kit Carson (13-10) – 3-1

Game C

#11 Weldon Valley (16-8) defeated #6 Idalia (19-6) – 3-1

Game D

#7 Briggsdale (19-5) defeated #10 Cheraw (20-4) – 3-1

Second Round – Nov. 10

Game E

#1 Merino (23-1) defeated #8 Dove Creek (22-2) – 3-0

Game F

#4 Simla (21-3) defeated #5 Otis (17-6) – 3-0

Game G

#3 McClave (22-2) will play winner of #2 Stratton vs #7 Briggsdale at 3:30 on 11/10

Game H

#2 Stratton (21-3) vs #7 Briggsdale (19-5) (still to play at press time on 11/9)

Game L

#12 Kit Carson (13-10) will play #11 Weldon Valley (16-8) at 12:30 on 11/10

Game J

#8 Dove Creek (22-2) vs #10 Cheraw (20-4) at 9:30 am on 11/10 n

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