Cherokee Trail became the first team to qualify for the inaugural sanctioned boys state volleyball tournament, but the Cougars were joined a day later by several other local squads.
Ninth-seeded Cherokee Trail played the only regional match June 18 and prevailed with a five-set decision over eighth-seeded Stargate Academy to become the first of eight teams to qualify for the boys state volleyball tournament June 25-26 at Rock Canyon High School.
On June 19, fifth-seeded Eaglecrest, seventh-seeded Cherry Creek and 11th-seeded Regis Jesuit also earned passage into the state field.
Coach Kristine Gauss’ Raiders will get the honors as the first team to play at the state tournament, as they will take on top-seeded Douglas County in a match scheduled for 9 a.m. June 25. The Huskies won in three sets when the teams played earlier.
Next up is an 11 a.m. matchup between Eaglecrest and fourth-seeded James Irwin, a team the Raptors have not encountered yet during their 12-3 season thus far.
Coach Chad Bond’s Eaglecrest team is coming together nicely at the right time, but has a tough task in the Jaguars, who are 14-1 with only a loss to Valor Christian, the No. 3 seed in tournament.
Cherokee Trail — which moved up in seeding after the Nos. 6 and 8 seeds were defeated in regionals — have a 1 p.m. match against second-seeded Legend. Coach Mike Thomsen’s Cougars lost to in four sets when they played way back on May 6.
Cherry Creek — which had a co-op with players from Overland this season — moved up a spot in the seeding due to the upsets as well and assumed the No. 6 spot, which pits coach Mike Degitis’ Bruins against No. 3 Valor Christian in a 3 p.m. match. Cherry Creek lost to the Eagles in four sets back on May 15 in tournament play.
The state tournament concludes on June 26 with first round winners meeting in matches scheduled for 9 and 11 a.m., followed by the state championship match at 2 p.m.
Cherokee Trail will forever be the answer to the Colorado prep trivia question about which team was the first to qualify for the first-ever sanctioned boys volleyball state tournament.
The Cougars earned that distinction with a 18-25, 25-17, 28-26, 19-25, 15-10 victory over homestanding Stargate Academy, which had a raucous student section (story, here).
“To be the first-ever state qualifying team, that is awesome,” said Thomsen, whose team improved to 8-7 on the season.
The Cougars played their only five-set match of the regular season in the finale, which it dropped to Regis Jesuit, another regional qualifier. Cherokee Trail was able to finish on top this time by leading virtually from start to finish in the deciding set.
Stargate Academy (13-2, with its only other loss coming to top-seeded Douglas County, the state championship favorite) dug itself a hole in the fifth set with some early errors and Cherokee Trail took the lead and ran with it.
Junior outside hitter Hudson Harms — who was integral to the victory with his 24 kills, which were followed by 19 from freshman John Clinton — is just looking forward to the experience.
“For every single person on our team it’s our first time at state, so it’s going to be a super exciting fight,” he said.
Eaglecrest advanced with a 25-16, 25-17, 25-21 win over 12th-seeded Fort Lupton, Cherry Creek downed No. 10 Colorado Springs Christian School 25-17, 25-13, 25-12 behind 18 kills from Justin Cypress and Regis Jesuit upset No. 6 Bear Creek 25-22, 25-23, 25-23, snapping the Bears’ 11-match win streak.
Full boys volleyball regional scoreboard, here.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2021 BOYS STATE VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
June 25 at Rock Canyon H.S.
Match 1: NO. 8 REGIS JESUIT (9-6) vs. No. 1 Douglas County (15-0), 9 a.m.
Match 2: NO. 5 EAGLECREST (12-3) vs. No. 4 James Irwin (14-1), 11 a.m.
Match 3: NO. 7 CHEROKEE TRAIL (8-7) vs. No. 2 Legend (13-2), 1 p.m.
Match 4: NO. 6 CHERRY CREEK (10-5) vs. No. 3 Valor Christian (13-2), 3 p.m.
— Full state tournament schedule, here