DENVER — The turning point came early for the Columbine Rebels, and they quickly found themselves on a long and lonely road.
Faced with a pivotal Class 5A state volleyball tournament game bright and early the morning of Nov. 7, the Rebels rallied to force a fifth game against Highlands Ranch. The Rebels (22-7) got down 4-0, then 7-2, then 10-3 before losing the decisive game 15-9.
“They wanted it more than we did,” Rebels coach Kathy Miks said.
Eventual champions Cherry Creek and Doherty got out the brooms on the Rebels as they were swept in their final two matches at the Denver Coliseum to conclude their season on a four-match slip.
The Rebels were painfully aware that they could not advance to the semifinals after their loss to Cherry Creek, which meant their game Nov. 8 against Doherty was just to complete play in Pool II. Neither team needed to win, but the Spartans (22-7) walked away with a 29-27, 25-20, 25-23 victory.
“I think some of the girls had already checked out,” Miks said.
Seniors Ellen Miks and Randee Hayes led the Rebels against the Spartans with 12 and 13 kills, respectively. Ellen Miks was steady for the Rebels throughout the tournament and she and Hayes were voted to the senior all-state teams, which will be played this weekend.
Columbine vs. Highlands Ranch
The Rebels and Falcons appeared to be even in the talent department, although the Falcons had the edge when it came to revenge.
Having been knocked out of state by the Rebels last year, the Falcons wanted to return the favor.
The Rebels hammered Highlands Ranch in the must-win fourth game as they jumped out to a 10-1 lead and never let up. The Rebels rolled into the fifth game but the Falcons reversed everything.
The Rebels wouldn’t get their first kill in the fifth game until Hayes put one down to cut the deficit to 4-2. The Rebels would managed just one more kill in the game – a fortunate hit by Miks from an awkward angle on the left side – as the Falcons picked up three points on hitting errors and served two aces.
“They served really tough,” Kathy Miks said of the Falcons.
The Rebels began much better.
Columbine won the first game 25-23 despite allowing the Falcons to rally and tie the game at 23. But Ellen Miks followed it with a kill and senior Megan Koop slammed the ball home to win the opening game.
The Rebels dropped the second game 25-21, a result that was especially frustrating considering the Rebels committed five service errors.
The third game produced the turning point of the match and Columbine’s state performance. An apparent kill by Miks appeared to have tied the score at 20, but the forthcoming discussion by match officials had Columbine out of its rotation and turned the score into a 21-19 deficit.
Columbine vs. Cherry Creek
The rumors that Cherry Creek was looking unstoppable proved to be true. The Bruins rolled the Rebels 25-13 in the first game before the Rebels would rally to tie the score at 14 and take a small lead in the second game.
Columbine would fall behind only to rally briefly behind Aimee Thomas before the Bruins snapped a 19-19 tie to win 25-21.
The Rebels would be forced to chase the third game as well. Setter Alicia Dotson was nearly unflappable, but the Bruins were just too big and organized along the net.