by David Tesitor
DENVER- The La Veta Redskins represented their school, town and Huerfano County with charm, physical athleticism and courage at the 2010 State Volleyball Tournament and walked away after they marched into the final four.
La Veta’s last visit to the state tournament was in 2007 when current seniors, Christina Koutnik and Sami Willhoite were freshman. Betsy Trenckmann and Cara Campbell served as statisticians that year. La Veta made the final four then, but lost their first match to finish third at state. The four seniors are now team leaders who helped the team to an undefeated regular season with a 22-0 record. Their only loss came at the hands of Fowler in the regional tournament giving the Skins a second-place regional finish and the number-six state tournament seed.
The tournament format is a round robin with each team within a pool of four playing one another. The top two teams with the best record advance into bracket play to determine the champion. In order to get there, the Redskins had to fight their way through the toughest pool in the tournament. Of the four teams, three had a single defeat. Three were ranked in the top ten in the state.
The Redskins opened their first match against the Rangely Panthers (23-1). La Veta took the first serve to take a 1-0 lead but dropped the next two before they managed to settle down. After a side-out, they then served the next five points to jump ahead 7-2. La Veta opened up a 15-8 lead before the Panthers clawed their way back 17-15. Coach Lessar called a timeout which allowed the Skins a side out on the next serve. With the service advantage, La Veta opened the game wide open and won the first game 25-17.
Both teams managed to get on track in the second game in a see-saw battle which fell the way of the Redskins 25-21. The third game was all Redskins as Koutnik and Junior Jacey Day were set for the kills which they were able to place with precision. Trenckmann and Brianna Crump were aggressive on the nets as the pair combined for several blocks in the match, as well as the tournament.
La Veta had two more matches, the first against the Burlington Cougars (25-1) and the Lutheran Parker Lions (20-5). They needed only one win to advance to the final four and a pair of wins would have made them the top seed from their pool.
The Cougars came into the tournament as their regional champion and number-two seed. There comes a time when the ball bounces the other way, and this time, it bounced for the Cougars. Everything Koutnik and Day sent over the net, Burlington was able to return. The Cougars went on to defeat La Veta in four: 25-16, 25-16, 22-25 and 25-17. The Redskins played a hard fought third game and took an early lead, 2-6. The Cougars finally tied it up at 17, before La Veta took control of the game and the win.
Both teams looked fatigued after that third game, but Burlington held on for the win and secured their trip to the final four. The Redskins would have to wait until Saturday to see if they would make their trip to the final four.
The Lions of Parker proved to be a formidable foe. La Veta won in four, hard fought games: 29-27, 25-22, 23-25 and 25-17. The battle seemed to take its toll on the Redskins, and they were scheduled to play their first semi-final match immediately thereafter. With a fifteen minute break, they hit the nets once again only to face the two-time defending champion Fowler Grizzlies, who ultimately went on to win their third straight title.
The Grizzlies have always been a volleyball powerhouse and this team is no exception. The team is 87-4 the past three years due in part to the state’s leading ball killer, junior Bethany Moss and blocker, senior Bethany Klinkermann. Fowler won in three: 25-11, 25-20 and 25-11. Throughout the games, the Redskins were aggressive in every return of the attempted kills of the Grizzlies but the strain of being on the court for over two and a half hours took its toll.
This lady Redskins team was clearly the best team in years. The abilities of everyone on the team as well as their team unity led to their success. Every member contributed to the successful season.
Members of the 2010 state team included Betsy Trenckmann, Christina Koutnik, Amanda White, Gina Schneider, Cara Campbell, Karley Corsentino, Breanna Ray, Jacey Day, Samantha McCay, Sami Willhoite, Ashton Rinker, Rebecca Uebler and Brianna Crump. Head Coach was Bree Lessar and Assistant Coach was Brandi Menegatti.
According to Coach Lessar, "My hat’s off to the Fowler team. Their play was excellent and while we played tough against them, they proved unbeatable, both in the semi and in the final as they went on later to win the State Championship match versus Burlington 25-14, 25-15, 25-12.”