The second undefeated run to a Class 4A state volleyball championship was harder than the first for Lewis-Palmer junior setter McKenna Sciacca.
The 2016 season was Sciacca’s first as the Rangers’ primary setter, and Lewis-Palmer was led by three senior hitters that are now playing at the Division I level.
The Rangers, as they often do, reloaded and finished another 29-0 campaign Saturday at Denver Coliseum, sweeping Valor Christian in the finals behind their setter’s superb play.
Sciacca finished the four state matches with 138 assists over 13 sets with just five ball handling errors.
She was at her best in the finale, finishing with an error-free 32 assists to go along with nine digs and four total blocks to earn Peak Performer of the Week honors.
“Even though we were playing long points and there was a lot of back and forth, she was running,” said first-year Lewis-Palmer coach Wade Baxter. “To still get to every ball and have consistent contact and not make one single double (touch), that’s tremendous.”
Winning with a new core sweetened the celebration for the junior.
“Honestly, there was more excitement to build up because this year has been a lot more challenging than last year was because we lost such great players,” Sciacca said.
Sciacca’s ability to consistently get the ball where it needs to go helped prevent a drop in play as the team ushered in a new group of attackers and a new, albeit familiar, coach.
Six Rangers finished with between 119 and 207 kills on the season.
“We go everywhere all the time,” Baxter said. “She knows who’s hot and where to go with the ball. That was a real strength of our team, our versatility.”
She played for Baxter on junior varsity as a freshman, while Mariah Evans wrapped up her senior year before continuing her volleyball career at North Carolina. Having a proven setter made Baxter’s first year easier.
“I can concentrate on other things,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about (saying) ‘you’re not putting the ball to the right people’ or ‘your sets are not consistent’ or whatever.”
Like Evans, Sciacca has plans to play in college. She committed to Northern Colorado in February. Sciacca said she liked the coaching staff and proximity to home.
Her two older sisters were also volleyball players but played in the middle. When the youngest of the Sciacca girls realized she was left-hand dominant in middle school, she transitioned to setter.
Teams will frequently attack opposing setters in hopes of taking them out of system, but the 5-foot-11 Sciacca appears up to the challenge. She had at least nine digs and multiple blocks in three of the four state tournament matches, allowing her coach to keep her on the court regardless of rotation.
“She’s been everything to the team,” Baxter said. “I mean, we’ve got a lot of other talented players too, but the setter always makes you go, and she really, really makes us go.”
Other Peak Performers
David Moore III, Pine Creek
The speedy sophomore helped the Eagles extend their season with a 34-0 playoff win over Golden on Friday. Moore III carried 23 times for 216 yards and two scores, averaging just under 10 yards per carry. He added a 27-yard reception for 243 total yards.
Ryan Self, Calvin Yocum, Air Academy
The senior classmates combined to produce the Kadets’ golden goal in a 1-0 overtime win over Centaurus in the state title game. Yocum played a corner kick into the middle of the box where it met Self’s head for the game’s only score.
Riley Simpson, Palmer Ridge
Just a freshman, the 6-foot-1 outside hitter led the Bears with 26 kills at the 4A state tournament last weekend. She put down 18 balls in a four-set loss to Niwot in the opener before helping Palmer Ridge close the season with a win with eight kills against Discovery Canyon.