AURORA | The Regis Jesuit volleyball team has hit both of its goals — each firsts this season — so it can set more.
Fresh off wrapping up the first Continental League championship in program history, the first of their aims, the Raiders finished off their second goal with their first-ever victory over Eaglecrest Tuesday night.
Celebrating Senior Night, Regis Jesuit rallied around fallen teammate Natalya King to get past the feisty Raptors in a 25-16, 18-25, 25-23, 25-21 victory in the Regis Jesuit Boys Division gym. Coach Laura Dunston’s Raiders — ranked No. 4 in Class 5A in the latest CHSAANow.com coaches/media poll — improved to 17-2 overall going into the Legend Tournament Friday and Saturday, which closes out the regular season.
Junior Santaisha Sturges pounded out a match-high 13 kills, while senior Claire Strohm added seven and freshman Alex Osredker — playing middle blocker in place of King — added six for Regis Jesuit, winners of 13 straight.
No. 8 Eaglecrest (12-6) contested every set before losing for the third time in its last five matches. Five of the six losses for coach Tanya Bond’s team have come to ranked teams.
The night began with the honoring of the six seniors that helped the Raiders to their first league crown in Strohm, King, Katie Carlson, Mikaela Myers, Wendy Dyer and Haley Elliott. It turned somber shortly into the opening set, however, as King crumpled to the floor after coming down on her knee awkwardly on a kill attempt.
After several moments in the hushed gym, King was carried off the court, returning later to the bench on crutches with her left knee wrapped in ice. The severity of the injury wasn’t immediately known, however Dunston later suspected she wouldn’t have King back in the lineup for the rest of the season.
When play resumed, Osredker’s kill gave Regis Jesuit it’s largest lead in the first set of five points (16-11), but Jordyn Poulter and Eaglecrest pulled back within two with three straight points of its own. Eventually, some Raptors errors combined with two Sturges finishes closed out the first set.
Regis Jesuit scored the first point of the second set, but Eaglecrest tied it up on a Poulter kill and led the rest of the way with Poulter, senior outside hitter Chloe Logan and junior middle blocker Kalee Maricle taking turns doing damage.
The Raptors continued the momentum in the third set by scoring the first five points — including two kills and a block from the 6-1 Poulter — and led 10-5 after Maricle put away three shots in a four-point sequence. Senior Taylor Loyd also began to find the range for the Raptors, though the set was tied 10 times, the last at 23-23.
Sturges pounded a shot off the Eaglecrest block to bring up set point for Regis Jesuit and Poulter’s attack went long to finish it off.
Strohm had a strong night defensively — with a team-high 19 digs, two more than Carlson — but became more effective offensively in the fourth set. Her kill tied the set at 2-2 and she added two more kills and a block shortly thereafter as the Raiders went up 7-3.
The Raptors couldn’t get closer than two points the rest of the way, though they rallied from a 24-17 deficit to make it 24-21 before Sturges’ tip ended the match.
REGIS JESUIT 3, EAGLECREST 1
Eaglecrest 16 25 23 21
Regis Jesuit 25 18 25 25
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel.