Panthers vying to bring back state volleyball trophy
For Sky-Hi News
The Middle Park Panthers Varsity Volleyball Team made the long journey last week to Coal Ridge High School for regional playoffs where they faced the home team, Coal Ridge, who held eighth place in the state, and Manitou Springs, who held 26th.
With parents and fellow classmates on their feet rumbling the gym, Panther fans were on edge throughout the night. The matches ended in tears of happiness from the players and their parents. The Panthers swept both teams off their feet with a home upset and trophy for the bus ride home.
Despite the victories, players and coaches have been practicing even harder to hone this skills needed to bring the state trophy back to the Panther Den.
On Friday and Saturday, the Lady Panthers will return to the Denver Coliseum, where they attempted to win the state trophy last year.
Pool play will start Friday and Saturday at 8 a.m. The results of these morning waves is what will determine the team’s schedule for the rest of the Colorado Volleyball State Tournament.
Panthers had a sweep last year at regionals, but lost first round at state, securing the fifth place for 3A volleyball. The community is behind the volleyball team as they make their journey for redemption.
“The team contended with a lot of unforeseen obstacles this season and I think that working through those obstacles made the girls stronger as individual players and as a team,” said head coach, Kate Lapham.
She also stressed that the combination of the team’s elite skills and their “never give up” attitude has the potential to take them very far in the State tournament. “I can’t wait to see how our team will compete with the top teams in the state and I think we will surprise a lot of people,” Lapham ended.
Bailey Martin leads the team with 222 kills and an extraordinary hitting percentage of .437. She has played varsity all four years of her high school career, including competing last year at state.
“I think that our team is more of a family since we have been through so much this year. Comparing ourselves to last year’s team is a challenge, considering that we are so different,” said Martin. “All of us are very emotionally attached to this team that we have built up and are willing to do whatever it takes to compete at state.”
This is a special volleyball team like no other.
Most of the girls have been competing together since they were in sixth grade. Not only are the girls used to the pressure of playing together, but they know what it is like to win and lose together. This weekend will be a journey for the freshman and first-year players at the varsity level, but a great memory for the seniors, no matter the outcome.
Kiera Barr, a senior at Middle Park High School, has joined Sky-Hi News as an intern for this semester.
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