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Doherty tops loaded field at Cheyenne Mountain tournament
Most outstanding player: Alexa Smith, Lewis-Palmer
Courtney Domme, Cheyenne Mtn.
Tori Gaherty, Liberty
Haleigh Washington, Doherty
Abby Shelton, Chapparal
Maddie Beal, Cheyenne Mountain
Monique Domme, Cheyenne Mtn.
Gabby Simpson, Doherty
With regional playoffs and the state tournament looming, the Colorado Invitational at Cheyenne Mountain was just the test area girls’ volleyball teams needed.
Some of the state’s top 4A and 5A programs squared off in a two-day tournament that separated the great from the good. 5A Doherty overcame a one-game deficit to defeat host 4A No. 1 Cheyenne Mountain 3-1 in the championship match and take the prestigious tournament title.
“We were kind of dead in the first game, but we turned it all around in the second,” said Doherty junior outside hitter Gabby Simpson, an all-tournament selection who had 13 kills and 22 assists in the win over the Indians. “Every match from here on is going to be tough, so we needed this to prepare us for state.”
The Spartans (23-0) were winners over the Indians (19-4) 19-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-16 in the deciding match hours after they defeated the city’s other top 4A school, Lewis-Palmer, 3-0.
“This was a huge test, and it’s just great to play against two really good teams,” Doherty coach Tara Hittle said. “It’s good to be able to face good teams this close to state, and we had fun. It was such a privilege to be here and participate in this tournament.”
Cheyenne Mountain avenged an early-season loss by blanking two-time defending 5A state champion Chapparal (19-4) 3-0 in the other semifinal. Lewis-Palmer (19-4) dropped its first game against Chapparal 25-22 before rallying to win the third-place match 3-1 by taking the next three games 25-15, 25-13, 25-22.
The loss didn’t completely dampen the spirits of the four-time defending 4A state champion Indians.
“We really grew from this tournament, so there were a lot of great things that came from it,” Cheyenne Mountain coach David Barkley said. “This works out well for state, because there’s no 4A team that plays like Doherty. They’re a special team, and they showed why they’re as good as they are.”
With the Colorado High School Activities Association dropping district tournaments from the schedule this year, the invitational served as a top-notch measuring stick for each school.
“With the fact that they dropped district tournaments, this was exactly what we needed,” said Lewis-Palmer coach Susan Odenbaugh, whose Lancers went 3-1 in the tournament. “Win or lose, you’re playing good teams, and it gives you an idea about what you need to tweak when you’re getting ready for the postseason. It’s something we needed to have.”
Cheyenne Mountain, Lewis-Palmer and Doherty are all expected to host regional tournaments next weekend, with the draw being announced Monday.