Pine Creek, Coronado overcame coaching changes to make state tournament

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DENVER - One game wasn't going to define the volleyball programs at Coronado or Pine Creek.

Both teams overcame coaching changes to qualify for the state tournament.

The Class 5A Pikes Peak region teams took solace in that as they were eliminated from contention at the Denver Coliseum Friday.

The No. 8 Cougars fell to top-seed Fossil Ridge 25-22, 26-24, 25-21.

The nine-seed Eagles lost to No. 4 Chatfield 25-9, 25-18, 25-13. Both teams will play their final game in pool play on Saturday.

"I'm pleased with the growth of the team over the season and I'm pleased that we're here," Coronado's first-year coach Stormie Wells said.

"This just wasn't our best performance."

The Cougars (18-8) certainly didn't have the same finishing touch they had at regionals a week ago.

Mara Abernethy was the only player with a positive kill percentage for Coronado, tallying 14 of her team's 28 kills on Friday.

The Cougars stayed close despite it, with a passing average of 2.25. They just couldn't find any offensive rhythm with 22 hitting errors.

"It definitely did sting a little bit," Abernethy said. "But we didn't get grouchy or snap at each other.

"I think when you're facing a team that good it's hard to stay together, so I'm proud of that."

Earlier, Lindsey Jin had nine kills for the Eagles. Abi Wibbels and Avery Nelson each had eight.

Pine Creek (18-9), one of the more surprising teams in the tournament, adjusted to a pair of coaching changes over the season -- the second as recent as Oct. 9 when first-year coach Amy Shoemaker resigned.

The Eagles reached the tournament a month later under co-coaches Shelley Lockwood and Paul Waring.

"You've got to look at what these girls have gone through," Lockwood said. "We told them two things when we took over.

"One, there was going to be changes, and two, we were going to go to state."

Pine Creek will face No. 5 Chaparral in an 8 a.m. match Saturday.

Coronado follows with a match against No. 12 Highlands Ranch.

"We're going to come out tomorrow with a lot of pride and just enjoy this," Lockwood said. "We're glad to be here."