All-around effort boosts Coronado past Rampart for league volleyball title

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Before Tuesday’s league-deciding volleyball match, Coronado feted its eight seniors as coach Stormie Wells gushed about the collective group’s willingness to play for each other.

Then the second-year coach saw her Cougars do it one more time in a 25-16, 20-25, 25-11, 25-19 win over Rampart that gave Coronado its first 5A Colorado Springs Metro League championship.

Wells noted a particular play that ended, like 18 did, on a kill from 6-foot-2 middle blocker Mara Abernethy.

“That ball Mara hit from the 10-foot line that was really spectacular was set up by a pass from Ashlynn Garcia on the back line,” Wells said. “She’s a senior that’s not going to get the attention our hitters do. But without that spectacular pass, that play doesn’t happen. Everyone contributed, and I was thrilled with the level of teamwork we showed.”

Garcia, who stands 13 inches shorter than Abernethy, felt the emotion and energy heading into the team’s final regular-season home game.

Then it was all about just doing her job.

“We knew it was going to be an emotional moment before the game,” Garcia said. “After the ceremony, it was time to play and put that stuff aside. I just love being able to set my team up for success on the back row. Playing inspiring defense helps keep our energy up.”

Coronado (17-2, 6-0 5A CSML) ran its win streak to 12 matches, dropping only three games along the way en route to sweeping the league schedule.

One of losses came in the second game Tuesday, and the Cougars immediately came back to wrestle the momentum back and regain control.

“It’s been a great season, and we’ve been building so much since all eight of us were sophomores,” senior hitter Jaelyn Hershberger said. “We’re not satisfied with just winning league, and there’s always more chicken on the bone. We’re going to focus on little details and looking forward to our next tournament and regionals (Nov. 5).”

Hershberger added 10 kills, while fellow seniors Delaney St. Pierre and Mallory Brown had eight each for Coronado, which shared the league title with Pine Creek and Rampart in 2015.

The Rams (12-7, 5-1) went undefeated in league play last season and had put together a 14-game Metro League winning streak that started with a loss to Coronado a little more than two years ago and ended Tuesday.

“Any time you play against a good team, you’re going to build off the good things we did and fix the bad things we did,” Rampart coach Nikki Bloemen said. “There was plenty to go around on both sides. We have time to work on stuff, and we’re going to see a lot of good competition going forward. I think we’re starting to hit our stride, but we have to figure out what it’s going to take against those top opponents.”