DENVER | Only one team could come out on top in an epic match between Grandview and Rock Canyon Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the Class 5A girls state volleyball tournament.
Both the fifth-seeded Wolves and third-seeded Jaguars played well enough to advance to the state championship match against top-seeded Valor Christian, but Rock Canyon came through in the key junctures and outlasted Grandview 16-25, 35-33, 29-27, 25-20 in one of the tightest matches of the competitive tournament.
Coach Rob Graham’s Wolves had planned to make to the 5A state final for a third straight season — where they would have had a rematch with the Eagles, who swept them in winners bracket play Friday — but they lost three straight tight sets after winning the opener to fall short.
The Wolves finished the season 22-8.
Grandview started strong against Rock Canyon and maintained a decent lead until it was able to close out the opening set. The Jaguars got within 20-16, but senior Abbey Hemp served out the last five points of the set. Senior Haley Glunz and junior Emerson Deferme had two kills apiece in the closing series.
The Wolves had a 24-22 lead in the second set as they looked to take a 2-0 lead, but the Jaguars staved it off to forge a 25-25 that would be just the start of an epic race for the two-point margin needed to win.
In all, Grandview had six set point chances — including at 33-32 after senior Gabi Placide’s kill down the line — but Rock Canyon battled back tied it and got the winning points on a service ace that landed just inside the back line and a block on an attack from Deferme that also was ruled to have touched down on the court near the backline.
The Jaguars tried to build on the momentum and raced out to a 20-14 lead in the third set and had a 24-22 advantage, but it was the Wolves’ turn to hold off set point twice to extend the match. Grandview had set points at 25-24 (on a Placide finish), 26-25 (on Deferme’s putaway) and 27-26 (after an errant Rock Canyon serve), but the Jaguars won the final three points to take the lead in the match.
Another back-and-forth set in the fourth finally tipped toward Rock Canyon in the middle. The Wolves got as close as one point at 21-20, but a block, two kills and an ace for the Jaguars put an end to the match.
Grandview started the final day with a 25-18, 25-17, 18-25, 26-24 win over No. 6 Chaparral in an elimination match, which came after a loss to Valor Christian Friday. On Thursday, the Wolves swept Denver South to start the tournament and made a huge rally to win three straight sets to beat Rampart in five sets.
Grandview should have a good number of players who got on the floor at the state tournament back next season, but graduate regulars in Placide and Glunz, who were two of the team’s top four offensive weapons.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2022 CLASS 5A GIRLS VOLLEYBALL STATE TOURNAMENT
Semifinals, Nov. 12 at Denver Coliseum
No. 3 Rock Canyon def. NO. 5 GRANDVIEW 16-25, 35-33, 29-27, 25-20