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Lash's 501st victory also carries significance for league-champion Coronado
Coronado volleyball coach Don Lash picked up his 500th career win earlier this week, but his 501st win was also historically significant.
Lash’s Cougars defeated Mesa Ridge 25-18, 25-22, 25-17 to finish a perfect 10-0 in the 4A Metro Conference and deliver the school its first league title since 1987.
“I think this means that we’re starting to get it together,” said Lash, who picked up the 500th win of his 34-year career on Tuesday against Mitchell. “The girls are realizing that we’ve moved up to a higher level of play and they have responded really well.”
In the last three decades, Lash has coached at Harrison, Pikes Peak Christian, Lewis-Palmer, Elizabeth and Aguilar. He won two state titles while at Lewis-Palmer and has been state runner-up twice – once with the Rangers and last season with Coronado.
Although he remains humble about his impressive achievements in the Colorado Springs area, his players have no problem praising him.
“We were so excited to be able to give him that 500th win and now this league title,” said senior Serina Nickle, who had 29 assists and nine kills against the Grizzlies on Thursday night. “He has so much class and we are honored to play for him.”
Respect for Lash stretches beyond the players, coaches and fans at Coronado (16-3, 10-0 4A Metro). After the Cougars had finished off Mesa Ridge (15-4, 8-2) in anticlimactic fashion, several fans and parents wearing purple came over to offer congratulations.
“It’s a nice thing to accomplish, and it’s a personal achievement, but for me it didn’t mean as much as it did for the kids and the school and community to be a part of it,” said Lash, who remains on top of what his regional-bound team must do to return to state. “We need to serve tougher and we’ve got to play a little bit stronger defense.”
The Coronado defense didn’t have any problems facing the Grizzlies, led by junior libero Julie Ward. She led the team with 35 digs, which was impressive considering how short the match was.
Ward was also a member of the 2011 state runner-up team and says none of this would be possible without Lash at the helm.
“I love coach to death; after my freshman year two years ago I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep playing volleyball, but then he came in and helped me love the game again,” Ward said. “If he hadn’t come here I don’t think we’d be nearly as far as we are and we wouldn’t be as much of a team.”
Mesa Ridge had a brief moment to make it a match when it led 22-21 in the second game. However, the Cougars rattled off four straight points to stop any comeback attempt.
Grace Neal led Mesa Ridge with 14 kills and Sarabeth Haworth had 21 digs and nine kills.