COLORADO SPRINGS | The Grandview girls volleyball team upset defending state champion Chaparral in the Class 5A regionals and continued to be a giant-killer Wednesday.
The Wolves — seeded eighth out of eight teams in the single-elimination 5A state tournament — played without intimidation against top-seeded and undefeated Mountain Vista in the morning state opener at the World Arena and came away with a 27-25, 21-25, 25-17, 25-15 victory.
Coach Rob Graham’s team moved into Thursday’s 8 a.m. semifinals, where it will face fourth-seeded Columbine, which prevented an all-Centennial League matchup by defeated fifth-seeded Cherry Creek in four sets. The semifinal winner moves into the 5 p.m. state championship match.
“I haven’t slept well for the last week and a half, so I’m tired, but this is something I’m more than happy to be tired for,” Graham told the Sentinel after his team improved to 13-4 with one of its most impressive wins of the season.
The other semifinal will be rounded out by the winners of first round matches scheduled later Wednesday with No. 7 Legend (10-3) going against No. 2 Rampart (10-1) at 5 p.m., followed by No. 6 Chatfield (9-4) against No. 3 Ralston Valley (16-0) at 8 p.m.
During the long hiatus between regionals — which were back on May 1 — and state, Graham expected his team to be matched with Mountain Vista in the opening round and he was OK with that given the Wolves began with extra motivation against a team that eliminated them from last season’s state tournament.
He believed his young team (which had two freshmen and a sophomore playing regularly) needed to maintain contact with the Golden Eagles — who were 15-0 coming in and had lost only one set all season — when the score reached 10 and 20 in the opening set.
The Wolves were indeed there in both instances, trailing by three at both stages and then surging to victory with the final two points coming on a kill from sophomore Haley Glunz and a mishandled ball on the Mountain Vista side.
Some service struggles for Grandview in the second set helped the Golden Eagles even the match, but the Wolves were relentless in the final two sets — building double-digit leads in both — to close it out.
Savvy junior setter Maya Deferme followed Graham’s game plan by feeding Glunz and freshman Emerson Deferme on the outside and sprinkling in quick set to senior Addison O’Grady, while junior Isabel Bennett was part of Grandview’s continued big play at the net, especially with Mountain Vista’s outside hitters a big undersized.
Throw in solid defense in the back from freshman libero Brenna Kelly — a converted outside hitter — among others and it was the perfect recipe for a Wolves’ victory.
“Every girl was dialed into what they needed to do individually,” Graham said. “I was confident that we prepared well.”
Grandview is in the 5A semifinals for the first time since 2014, when it won the last of the program’s five all-time state titles.
A semifinal win over Columbine (13-1) — which topped Cherry Creek 25-19, 25-21, 14-25, 25-22 — would put the Wolves in the final for the first time under Graham (who took over for legend Patty Childress in 2016) and for the 11th time in program history.
“I told them now that we’re here, we might as well win it,” Graham said.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2021 SEASON C CLASS 5A GIRLS STATE VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
Thursday, May 13 at World Arena
Match 7: Winner Match 5 vs. Winner Match 6, 5 p.m.
Match 5: NO. 8 GRANDVIEW (13-4) vs. No. 4 Columbine (13-1), 8 a.m.
Match 6: Winner Match 3 vs. Winner Match 4, 8 a.m.
Wednesday, May 12 at World Arena
Match 1: NO. 8 GRANDVIEW def. No. 1 Mountain Vista 27-25, 21-25, 25-17, 25-15
Match 2: No. 4 Columbine def. No. 5 Cherry Creek 25-19, 25-21, 14-25, 25-22
Match 3: No. 6 Chatfield (9-4) vs. No. 3 Ralston Valley (16-0), 8 p.m.
Match 4: No. 7 Legend (10-3) vs. No. 2 Rampart (10-1), 5 p.m.