Most Viewed Stories
- TCA misses chances in 1-0 2OT loss to Peak to Peak in 3A girls’ soccer final
- Breakthrough at Broken Tee: Indians reach top of 4A girls’ golf world
- This Week's Peak Performer: Alexa Chacon, TCA track and field
- Team-first approach works for No. 1 Cheyenne Mountain
- Pine Creek's Nelson injured before 5A golf final round, ties for 27th
St. Mary's overcomes flu bug to qualify for state
The only thing slowing down St. Mary’s right now is a flu bug running through the team.
Even that wasn’t enough Saturday as the fifth-seeded Pirates cruised past No. 32 Arrupe Jesuit and No. 20 Brush in three games apiece to win the 3A Region 5 volleyball tournament and advance to state.
“We’re going to state. It’s great,” said St. Mary’s coach Melissa Sweeney. “The kids really showed how to pull it together. We get challenges for a reason, to make us stronger, and it gave opportunities to other kids to see what they can do.”
Sweeney had five players come down with flu-like symptoms in the past week, the latest being seniors Sarah Tentschert and Hanna Stockelman. This forced the Pirates (24-1) to use a variety of rotations to help with fatigue.
Despite being ill, Tentschert (10 kills) put forth a tremendous effort in the Pirates' 25-16, 25-13, 25-13 victory over Brush (14-11) to clinch a trip to state. The senior had a sensational kill to break a 13-13 tie, the ninth tie of the first game, and spark the Pirates on a 12-3 run.
St. Mary’s never trailed for the rest of the day.
“I was feeling pretty bad in the morning, but I kind of ignored it,” Tentschert said. “Especially for this last game.”
Sweeney jumped up from the bench when Tentschert broke open the match and the coach credited her senior for being the key to St. Mary’s ignition.
“We always say somebody needs to turn the ignition on,” Sweeney said. “That’s what Sarah did. She went up and lit up that ball. We saw the key turn and it didn’t stop.”
Tentschert admitted the first match of the morning against Arrupe Jesuit (14-10) was tough on her physically. However, the outside hitter made her presence known and set the tone with three strong kills in the opening minutes. St. Mary’s defeated the Generals 25-12, 25-11 and 25-13.
“They didn’t get down and they just kept working hard,” Sweeney said. “The younger kids didn’t freak out and the seniors led like they needed to. These guys are all about picking each other up.”
Generals coach John Pimmel was proud of his team’s defensive effort but said St. Mary’s hitters were just too strong.
“They’re probably the strongest hitters we have seen this year,” Pimmel said. “Their setters are great, and they pass really well.”
St. Mary’s has now won 17 straight matches and 44 consecutive sets since losing the opening game to Lamar on October 9.
The main challenges for the Pirates, who also dealt with injuries at the start of the season, have come off the court so far this year. That will change next week against 3A’s best.
However, a healthy St. Mary’s squad will be a tough team to beat after how dominant the Pirates were Saturday while clearly playing not at full strength.
After being eliminated last year in the regional round Stockelman (20 kills in the two matches) said the Pirates were not going to let anything get in their way of making a trip to state, even a stomach virus.
“Last year we got knocked out and this year we just wanted to come out so strong to show everybody what we got,” Stockelman said. “This is really an amazing feeling.”