For the second consecutive year, Valor Christian volleyball won the Class 5A state title.
The Eagles wrapped up a 29-0 season with a 3-2 state title victory over Fossil Ridge on Nov. 11 at the Denver Coliseum. However, the final day of the state meet was one of the toughest Valor experienced all season.
Valor completed its second undefeated season and will take a 58-match winning streak into next season. The last match loss for Valor was a 3-2 setback to Ralston Valley in the 2021 state tournament.
Valor, which came into the state meet with a 47-set winning streak, which was snapped by Grandview in a first round state tourney win on Nov. 9. The match went the distance with five full sets to get past Legend (25-14, 22-25, 21-25, 25-17, 15-6).
Valor got off to an 8-2 start in the decisive fifth set against the Titans.
Then, the Eagles had to rally for the final six points in the fifth set to beat Fossil Ridge (21-25, 25-16, 25-13, 19-25, 15-12) in the championship match.
“This is a very resilient group,” said Valor head coach Jane McHugh. “When the captain (Delaney Russell) comes in at the beginning of the fifth set and says we have to let our love for each other shine through right here. This is a sport that lends itself to team-ness.”
Valor has been the team which all other schools want to beat because of the Eagles recent success.
“You just have to embrace it, you can’t run from it,” McHugh added. “You’ve got to embrace it and can’t let it affect how you help your teammates. It’s got to be about giving to everybody else all the time, and that helps take that target right off your back.”
Grace Langer, who had double digit kills against Fossil Ridge and helped the Golden Eagles get off to a quick start in the fifth set against the Sabercats, was a key player during Valor’s two matches on Nov. 11 along with Kenzey McGatlin, Russell, Chloe Elarton and Kaitlyn Lynch.
Langer, a senior has committed to play at West Virginia next season, was not surprised that the Eagles were able to come back in the semifinals and finals which is something the team didn’t have to do most of this season.
“We were able to come back and we always talk about winning the next five points,” said Langer. “Being a senior when I can trust my teammates, depend on them and even if I’m not feeling like my super confident self, I can turn to Chloe (Elarton) or Delaney (Russell) or Kenzey (McGatlin) or anybody on the team, and they will step up.”
In the semifinal win over Legend, Russell had 24 kills and 24 digs while Langer had 13 kills and McGatlin 12. Elarton had four blocks and 50 assists.