Facing elimination in the fifth game of a razor-thin match against Valor Christian, the Windsor volleyball team wasn’t about to pack it up and head home from the Class 4A state volleyball tournament.
If the Wizards were going down, they were going down swinging.
Leading 14-10 with the serve, Valor Christian gave the Wizards a faint chance of survival with a service error. Windsor answered as Rebecca Mikkelson served beautifully and senior outside hitter Angie Pancost pounded home two shots down the right baseline. Lexie Spykstra sandwiched one of her eight kills between the Pancost kill shots and Windsor tied the game at 14.
The Wizards didn’t have any swings left in them, however.
Valor Christian scored two points at the net on block attempts by Windsor and the Wizards lost a heartbreaker 20-25, 25-21, 25-17, 20-25, 16-14 to end their season in the final match of first-round pool play at the Denver Coliseum.
“From the start of the match, we were going to have to come out tough and swinging. It was a battle,” said Windsor libero Taylor Pribble. “When Becca (Mikkelson) went back there to serve and we were down, she served so well. I don’t think I would have been able to do what she did. We gave absolutely everything that we could defensively. Our hitters went out with a pound.”
Pancost and Spykstra got the kills, but it was Pribble who set up those points. The senior made two of her match-leading 32 digs in those final plays of the match, twice diving to her left to just scrape the ball off the floor.
“Taylor Pribble stepped up. She’s played amazing defense all season long, so she didn’t surprise us, she didn’t do anything we weren’t used to seeing all season long,” said Windsor head coach LaVerne Huston. “I was so proud of the kids. We didn’t (give up). It was a great match. This is what the state tournament should be about. It should come down to the very last ball and it did.”
Trailing 2-1, Windsor (23-4) forced the tie-breaking game five with a dominant 25-20 win in the fourth. Valor (20-7), however, was the more aggressive team in the fifth, going on a 4-0 run to take a 9-5 lead, forcing a Windsor timeout.
Hannah Von Allman made a kill to bring the Wizards within one at 10-9, but Valor Christian took advantage of three Windsor hitting errors to take a 13-9 lead, and later 14-10, before the Windsor comeback.
“It couldn’t have been any closer. It was so competitive. It’s fun to compete in those matches and you know what, we shouldn’t expect anything less. When you get to this level, that’s what it should be about. You should see the best and play the best,” Huston said.
“They really exposed our weakness, which all season has been blocking. We really struggled containing them at the net. They were much bigger. We’re very small, but we make up for that with our quickness and our defense.”
Kate Gibson led Valor with 12 kills, while Pencost led all players with 16. Her teammate, Miranda Geist, added 12.
The Wizards graduate three seniors and each played pivotal roles on Saturday: Pribble, Pancost and Mikkelson.
“I’m sad that my high school season is over, but I wouldn’t have rather spent it with the girls that I did,” Pribble said.
Follow reporter Stephen Meyers at twitter.com/stemeyer.