Pure joy: Mustangs off to state with heads high
West Grand is playing its best volleyball of the season, and the timing couldn’t be better for the Mustangs, who’ve punched their ticket to the Class 2A state tournament this week in Denver.
To get to there, the Mustangs had to get past Ignacio and Highland in the regional tournament Friday in Kremmling. Well, West Grand handled Ignacio in four sets before sending Highland home in three.
“They played their best volleyball of the season (on Friday),” Coach Scott Terryberry said after the matches. “We’re going to state, and right now we’re on a roll.”
In the second match vs. Highland, West Grand was about to win in the third set. As the moment drew near, Mustangs fans filling the gymnasium rose to their feet and the school’s cheerleaders made their way down from the stands to court level.
Once the score was final, the cheer squad rushed the hardwood and collided with the volleyball team, setting off a sea of hugs, celebration and tears of joy.
For Mikayla Shearer and Emma DeSanti, two senior leaders on the volleyball team, it almost didn’t feel real.
“We just knew we had to put our all into it,” DeSanti said of the regional tournament, adding that she and her teammates didn’t know if this would be their last chance to play together.
But everything clicked Friday, their coach said, and the team prevailed to see another match. While West Grand has been fantastic throughout the year, running its league record up to 11-1, the Mustangs are playing their best games right now, Terryberry said.
It seems this was exactly what the team wanted.
“I am so excited,” DeSanti said, fans still celebrating behind her. “This was our goal all season, but when it actually happened — this was just crazy.”
Winning the regional tournament at home only made the accomplishment that much sweeter. DeSanti and Shearer both gave the Mustangs’ fans credit after the matches.
“Yeah, definitely,” Shearer said of feeling the home court advantage, in which the volume and energy inside the gym only made the team want to play that much harder.
For state, 12 squads will face off in a double-elimination bracket at the Denver Coliseum later this week and weekend. Once they reach the semifinals, it becomes single elimination.
In Thursday’s opening round, West Grand will square off with Del Norte. With the No. 7 seed, the Mustangs come into the matchup the higher ranked of the two, and the winner will move on to face No. 2 Limon, which has a first round bye.
Going into the tournament, the Mustangs appear to be keeping their goals pretty straightforward.
“We’re just thinking we want to go in there with our heads high,” DeSanti said.
“And play with our heart,” Shearer and DeSanti added.
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