Junior Caden Cole (4) and the Cherokee Trail boys volleyball team are the first of four from Aurora to play in regionals beginning on June 18, 2021. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

In its first season as a sport officially sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association, boys volleyball — which has operated as a pilot program for two years — has reached the postseason, which begins with regional tournaments Friday and Saturday.

The regional round consists of eight two-team tournaments with the winner moving on to the single-elimination state tournament, which is scheduled to be played June 25-26 at Rock Canyon High School in Highlands Ranch.

Of the 16 teams to qualify for the postseason, a quarter of them hail from Aurora or have Aurora players on the roster in fifth-seeded Eaglecrest (11-3), seventh-seeded and 9-5 Cherry Creek (which also includes athletes from Overland), ninth-seeded Cherokee Trail (7-7) and 11th-seeded Regis Jesuit (8-6).

The first match of the postseason involves coach Mike Thomsen’s Cougars, who visit eighth-seeded Stargate School in the lone Friday regional, which tips off at 6 p.m.

Cherokee Trail has two of the top five players in total kills this season in junior Hudson Harms and freshman John Clinton, who have combined for just over 300 putaways on the season. Junior setter Caden Cole has made use of both weapons and more to the tune of nearly eight assists per set, which ranks him third in the state, while sophomore Jaime Coronel is fourth in the state with 209 digs.

Eaglecrest also has players from Smoky Hill and will use the Buffaloes’ gym for its home regional, which comes at 1 p.m. Saturday against 12th-seeded Fort Lupton.

Senior Aiden Bond leads the state in total kills with 188 or a whopping 4.3 per set, while sophomore Ayden Shaw is another prime weapon with 133 kills on the campaign for coach Chad Bond’s Raptors, who also have the state’s assist leader in junior Alfred Maiava (481 in 44 sets played). Sophomore Dennis Anchetta has the sixth-most digs in the state (167).

Cherry Creek — which also has some athletes from Overland on its roster — plays host to 10th-seeded Colorado Springs Christian School (which has an eight-match winning streak and is 11-2) at 10 a.m.

Coach Mike Degitis’ Bruins (winners of five of their last seven matches) have the second most-prolific setter in the state in junior Jordan Cardenas, who is averaging just under 10 assists per set.

Coach Kristine Gauss’ Regis Jesuit (8-6) team — which has won three of its last five matches — visits sixth-seeded Bear Creek (13-1) at 11 a.m. The Bears have won 11 straight matches and haven’t dropped a set since their only defeat on May 15 to James Irwin, the No. 4 seed in regionals.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports

2021 BOYS VOLLEYBALL REGIONALS

Region 8: NO. 9 CHEROKEE TRAIL (7-7) at No. 8 Stargate School (13-1), June 18, 6 p.m.

Region 7: No. 10 Colorado Springs Christian School (11-2) at NO. 7 CHERRY CREEK (9-5), June 19, 10 a.m.

Region 6: NO. 11 REGIS JESUIT (8-6) at No. 6 Bear Creek (13-1), June 19, 11 a.m.

Region 5: No. 12 Fort Lupton (9-4) vs. NO. 5 EAGLECREST (11-3), June 19, 1 p.m., Smoky Hill High School

— Full 2021 boys volleyball regional pairings, here

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