It’s no big surprise that the Lewis-Palmer volleyball team is looking to bring home another Class 4A championship banner.
But the Rangers aren’t the only Pikes Peak region squad with state aspirations.
Enter Palmer Ridge and Coronado, two schools whose accomplishments are arguably overshadowed by the Rangers - who have captured three state titles in four years and are aiming for another one under first-year head coach Wade Baxter.
All three will compete in tournaments this weekend before the regional seedings are released Monday. The matches will be a chance for the teams to make some last-minute tweaks to their schemes in advance of the postseason.
For Palmer Ridge, this is a new position for many of the players. The roster is made up of mostly underclassmen, including four freshmen and three sophomores. Still, the Bears are 17-2 and finished second in the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference behind Lewis-Palmer (19-0).
“We’re pretty young, but we’re working hard to develop the girls to make them strong, which they are,” said coach Jessen Miller, who guided Palmer Ridge to the postseason last season for the first time since 2013. “They keep going, they keep developing.”
The younger players aren’t necessarily inexperienced since they play for club teams, but Miller said one leader on the team is senior hitter Kori Woods, who is fourth on the team in kills with 85 behind freshmen Mac Russ (190), freshmen Riley Simpson (163) and junior Summer Reflogal (148).
“She’s been a true leader for those younger girls,” Miller said. “They look to her a lot.”
For Coronado, it’s a different story. The Cougars (17-2) have experience, led by senior Mara Abernethy, who dominates near the net with her 6-foot-2 frame. But coach Stormie Wells said there’s more to the team than just one player.
“There are others who can lift her up,” Wells said. “She can’t pass to herself, she can’t set the ball up for herself. We’re really focused on ourselves.”
Senior Jaelyn Hershberger leads Coronado with 172 kills, while Delaney St. Pierre has 482 assists and Lacey Redinger has 44 aces.
With that kind of contribution, the Cougars are focused on what’s in front of them and not the upcoming 5A seedings. On Tuesday, Coronado captured the 5A Colorado Springs Metro League championship with a win over Rampart.
“As a coach, I learned years ago having expectations is very dangerous,” Wells said. “They serve nothing else but to let you down.”