Fossil Ridge, Rocky Mountain, Poudre and Fort Collins high school all qualified for the regional round of the CHSAA 5A volleyball playoffs and will play Saturday at host sites.
The top 36 teams in the state qualified for the regional round and the top 12 seeds will host matches. In previous years, teams had to advance through a larger district round to regionals then to state. This year, districts were dropped and region winners automatically qualify for the state tournament.
Fossil Ridge, which finished 17-6 and shared the Front Range League title with Rocky Mountain, just missed hosting a regional. The SaberCats are seeded 13th and will travel to 12th-seed Chatfield to play the Chargers and 25th-seed Castle View.
“It would have been nice to host it and sleep in a little later, but it’s just an honor to get into the tournament,” Fossil Ridge coach Paul Shimek said. “But we’re not coming up against the top seed. Chatfield is a good team with some nice outsides, but they have the same record we do.”
The SaberCats run a 6-2 offense, which features two setters in the back row rather than one, and like to attack with their middle blockers due to their strength at that position. Sophomore Bridgett Lococo led the SaberCats with 180 kills and had 82 blocks. Senior Katherine Stevens had 153 kills and 115 blocks.
Rocky Mountain finished the regular season 16-6 and finds itself in the same predicament as the SaberCats just outside the hosting party. The Lobos are the tournament’s 15th seed and will play at 10th-seeded Legend along with Rangeview, the 27th seed.
“The girls are disappointed they didn’t get to host,” Rocky coach Glenn Gainley said. “I think they believe they belong in the state tournament. They’ve got some motivation to show some people they can do this.”
The Lobos lost eight seniors from last year’s state qualifying team, but returns a host of players with postseason and state tournament experience.
Senior middle blocker Desi Klaer and junior outside hitter Ashton Mares lead the charge with 2.8 and 4.5 kills per set, respectively, and add even more from a leadership standpoint.
“They do a lot of carrying emotionally of the younger kids and helping them believe when they get into tougher matches that they can get this done,” Gainley said. “I wish I had more (experience), but I’m delighted to have two kids that played in the state tournament who are afraid of nothing.”
Fort Collins (17-6) and Poudre (13-10) finished fifth and sixth in the Front Range League standings, and qualified as the 22nd and 32nd seeds, respectively.
The Lambkins will play in third-seeded Chaparral’s regional while the Impalas are headed to fifth seed Mountain Vista.
“It says a lot for our conference, we’ve got a strong conference. Volleyball is a big deal up here with some of the clubs and the opportunities for the girls, that’s always a big plus,” Shimek said.