Lions roar to second straight crown
DENVER - Perfect.
Lutheran capped a 28-0 season with a 22-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-23 victory over Simla to win the Class 2A state volleyball championship at the Denver Coliseum.
It was the second consecutive state championship for the Lions who have now won 41 matches in a row since their last loss on Oct. 15, 2011.
“They (state titles) were both difficult to win,” said Lutheran coach Alicia Oates. “This is a different group of girls. You knew what the expectations were and you didn’t want to fall short. We didn’t do that.
“These girls battled all season. Midway through the season we kind of developed a `we can’t lose’ type of thing.”
The championship match was a classic, pitting the unbeaten No. 1 seed (Lutheran) against the unbeaten No. 2 seed (Simla).
Lutheran advanced to the championship match with 3-0 victories over Telluride, Akron and Resurrection Christian.
The only game the Lions lost in the tournament was the first set against Simla who was led by senior middle hitter Kenzi Mitchell, who had 28 kills in the match.
“They were a quality opponent,” Lutheran’s 6-foot-1 senior Laura Beach said.
“We had so much respect for them. They played amazing. It took a complete team effort from the girls. It’s an amazing feeling to win the state championship.”
Beach and 5-10 junior Connie Olson played more aggressive after the first set loss and that seemed to make the difference for the Lions.
“We made a lot of errors in that first game,” Oates said. “Once we started playing not to them and played our game we did better.
“We just had to come into the tournament doing what we did all year. We couldn’t try to adjust too much and we had to do what had gotten us to this point. We just had to play together as a team and just play what we call Lutheran High volleyball.”
Beach, who had 25 kills in the match, had 14 kills and was in on eight blocks and had an ace in the final three games.
Olson had nine of her 16 kills in the concluding three games and saved her biggest kill for last.
Simla, trailing 24-19 in the fourth game, fought off four match points before Olson delivered a kill to seal Lutheran’s second consecutive state championship.
“I just felt that I had to put it down for my team, my Lord, and get a state title for everybody,” said Olson.
“There was just a feeling that we could do it as a team.
“The feeling of winning the state championship is the same as last year. Now, it is awesome because it’s the second one. We knew we could do it.”
Simla coach Sue Snyder had praise for her 28-1 team after the title match.
“The girls played their hearts out, they were so driven to do well,” said Snyder. “I couldn’t be more proud of the girls as they gave it all they had. Lutheran is a very good team and they have the big players.”