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Bid for state comes up short

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By Dan Johnson

Thanks to its dominance in Jefferson County and some strong non-conference wins, the Chatfield volleyball team was rewarded for its strong play by hosting one of four Class 5A regional tournaments on Nov. 7.

After a long day of volleyball, Chatfield’s opportunity to reach the 5A state tournament hinged on its final match of the day against Doherty.

The Chargers (21-5) put forth a good effort but the height of the Spartans proved too much as Doherty earned the region’s second state tournament berth with a 30-28, 25-13, 25-22 victory.

“It hurts,” said Chatfield coach Stephanie Schick, who like her players, had to wipe away visible tears. “The girls played great this season and they deserve to feel those strong emotions, win or lose, based on how they played.”

Arapahoe, the third seed in the four-team bracket, won the regional with a 3-0 mark. Doherty finished 2-1 with Chatfield at 1-2 and Ralston Valley rounding out Region C with an 0-3 record.

Chatfield opened the day with a grueling five-set match against Jeffco League foe, Ralston Valley. The Chargers rallied down two sets to one, as they won the fourth set 25-19 and the fifth and final set, 15-9.

A win against Arapahoe would’ve clinched a state tournament berth but the Chargers were instead dropped in three sets, giving the Warriors – who had defeated Doherty in a five-set thriller in the day’s opening match – a ticket to state.

The loss set up an elimination game with Doherty, which like Chatfield, had defeated Ralston Valley and fallen to Arapahoe. In the first set, the two teams matched each other dig for dig and kill for kill. The intensity on both sides was high and that made for some exciting volleyball.

After trading points the entire set, Chatfield gave itself four separate chances to win the set, only for Doherty to answer back. The Spartans finally put the set away and carried the momentum into second set following the tough 30-28 win.

“We needed to differentiate ourselves from (Doherty) earlier in the set,” Schick said. “We had some chances to go up by two, three points and weren’t able to do it. A lot of that had to do with Doherty and the way they were playing.”

The Spartans, led by 6-foot-3 junior, Taylor Simpson, controlled the second set from the outset and never trailed on their way to an easy 25-13 win.

Down two sets, Chatfield’s backs were firmly against the wall, and they played like it. The Chargers returned more to form of the first set than the second and hung with the Spartans point for point. In the end, the difference was the height of the Spartans, as they were able to negate Chatfield’s top hitters, Ali Longo and Mary Pollmiller, and won the set’s final three points to clinch the match.

“We played as hard as we could,” Schick said. “Sometimes, it’s just not your day and that was the case for us. Still, we had an amazing season.”

Indeed.

Not only did the Chargers rule the Jeffco League, they also won several big non-conference games and established themselves as one of the elite teams in the state.

“I know the girls are disappointed about not getting to state, but I think they can still be proud of what they did this season,” Schick said.