“I think we deserve to (go to state) because we have shown our worth on the court,” the senior said. “We have won against so many teams, and we’re a very versatile team. We have the heart and we have the skill and we want (to go to state) more than anything.”
While it will probably never be known whether the committee read Cameron Elder’s words, her hopes of competing in this year’s state tournament came to fruition when Dolores (22-2 overall, 13-0 in SJBL) was awarded the final wild-card spot in the Class 2A State Tournament.
One of 12 teams left in the Class 2A field, the Lady Bears will travel to the Denver Coliseum this weekend where they will play against No. 1 seed Yuma High School (22-1 overall, 8-0 in Lower Platte League) and No. 8 seed Rangely High School (21-4 overall, 11-1 in Western Slope League).
The top finisher in the three-team pool will advance to the Class 2A State semifinals, which will be played on Saturday. The Class 2A state finals will be played later on the same day.
Lady Bears face state’s top team in openerScheduled to face off against top-seeded Yuma about 9:15 a.m. on Nov. 10, the Lady Bears figure to have their hands full against an opponent whose only loss came to University High School, which is ranked fourth in Class 3A.
Leading the way offensively for Yuma will be junior Chasey Blach, who registered 377 kills on the season, and junior Cody Robinson, who smacked down 304 kills on the year. Both juniors figure to get plenty of opportunities to score against a stout Lady Bears defense, led by senior Sierra Schwartz, who had 330 kills on the season.
Likely to play a significant role in the match will be the serving of both teams, who will each rely on players capable of registering aces at any time. Over the course of the season, six Yuma players registered at least 25 aces. By comparison, junior Tatum Majors led the Lady Bears led her team with 53 aces on the year.
Offensively, Dolores is likely to feed the ball to sophomore standout Jordan Elder, who led her team with 322 kills this season. If the Lady Bears are to make headway against Yuma, Jordan Elder will have to find a way around Blach, whose prowess at the net resulted in 67 blocks this year.
Lady Bears hoping to avenge loss to RangelyRegardless of its results against Yuma, Dolores will play its second game of the state tournament against Rangely about 9:15 a.m. on Nov. 11. For the Lady Bears, the matchup will provide an opportunity to a five-set loss in the regional championship last weekend.
To defeat Rangely, Dolores will look to set the ball to Jordan Elder early and often as the sophomore registered a season-high 26 kills in the regional championship match. The net play of senior Cameron Elder could also be key for Dolores given that the senior came through with a match-high six blocks last weekend.
Ultimately, the outcome of the Lady Bears’ match against Rangely will likely hinge on which team is best able to deal with the pressure of playing in the Denver Coliseum with a berth in the state semifinals potentially on the line.
Yuma has been there before, finishing second last year, and winning the title twice, most recently in 2015.
In the event that Dolores emerges from its matches at the top of its three-team pool, the Lady Bears will advance to the state semifinals and attempt to continue what has already been a dream season.
“We just have so much heart and passion for the game of volleyball,” said Cameron Elder, when asked to describe her team. “We’ve been playing since we were little, and we just want it so bad. We can play through God and for God, and that has been our motivation all season long.”
With at least two matches remaining this year, Dolores is hoping to tap into the magic that one of Colorado’s most endearing teams while showcasing its talents to fans on Colorado high school volleyball’s biggest stage.