For one team, it’s uncharted territory and for another, it’s déjà vu. The third hopes history repeats.
While their recent histories may be different, the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers, Dolores Bears, and Dove Creek Bulldogs share one important thing in common: Each team is red-hot and carries winning streaks into the postseason.
All three will be put to the test this weekend, as the Panthers and Bears hit the road for their 3A and 2A regional pairings, and Dove Creek hosts a 1A regional for the second consecutive year.
The Panthers (15-5) have rattled off seven consecutive victories, including an impressive 4-0 mark at Steel City Tournament this weekend against 4A competition. During the streak, their RPI ranking hit a peak with the Panthers as the 24-seed entering the 3A regional tournament.
Their win total matches the program’s best since the 2010 team posted a 15-13 record. The 2018 Panthers have a chance to do something that no M-CHS team has done since 2010 – win a regional match.
In their regional pool, head coach Maddie Wright’s Panthers have drawn the 3A top seed, Lutheran (22-1), who will serve as regional host, and 36-seed Lake County (14-8). In the round robin, the Panthers will play Lake County first. The appearance marks the first regional berth for M-CHS since 2014.
The Dove Creek Bulldogs will relish the chance at redemption. The 2017 Bulldogs came agonizingly close to a state tournament appearance, falling in five sets on their home floor to Sangre de Cristo in the regional championship.
It only seems fitting that the two seem on a collision course Saturday in Dove Creek. The Bulldogs host the regional as a reward for their District 1 crown, with the Bulldogs topping Nucla and DeBeque to push their record to 19-2.
Meanwhile, the rest of the regional pool shapes up as it did 12 months ago – Sangre de Cristo (15-8) taking the two-seed, while Nucla (12-10) rounds out the Region E pool. It’s the same teams that battled in 2017, but this time, Dove Creek hopes to be celebrating at the day’s end.
The Bulldogs have won 13 of their past 14 matches, and are seeking a return to the state tournament for the first time since 2013, when the Bulldogs made it to the state semifinals.
In 2017, the Dolores Bears played under the lights of the Denver Coliseum, and this year’s squad seeks to make a return visit. The Bears overcame a slow start to the season, and have since collected 15 wins in a row to carry a 17-3 mark and 19-seed in the 2A field into the regional date in Del Norte.
A strong core of upperclassmen for Dolores has the program one win shy of 40 total wins in their past two seasons, with back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2013-14.
The Bears have their sights set higher this year, as they prepare to take on Rocky Ford (9-14), the 31-seed, before their clash against the six-seed Del Norte (21-2).
A busy Saturday of volleyball will have regionals in action from all five classifications – at the end of action this weekend, the state field will be determined. Each of the regional champions will advance to State Championships the weekend of November 9-10 in Denver.