BROOMFIELD — The stress level inside the Tiger gym on Friday afternoon was really high … at least among the spectators.
The Holy Family volleyball team was cool and confident, even in the midst of a grueling five set first match against D’Evelyn in the Class 4A Region 8 tournament.
“That game was a wake up call,” junior libero Peyton Frank said. “But when you get to this level, all the teams are good.”
The No. 8-seeded Tigers held on to beat No. 29 D’Evelyn 16-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-18, 15-12 in the first match and then carried that momentum into the final match against No. 17 Pueblo West. They made quick work of the Cyclones, closing them out in three games 25-10, 25-22, 25-23 — with senior outside hitter Ali Travis fittingly punching the Tigers ticket with one last big kill to win the match.
“This gives us a few more days to get girls 100 percent and back healthy, we’ve really struggled with that for the last three weeks and just getting that extra time will get everyone healthy,” Tigers coach Krista Solomon said. “We will still be working on stuff, but getting through today was definitely a win for us.”
The aforementioned tension in the D’Evelyn game was palpable, especially when the upset hungry Jags — who took the Tigers to five games back in August as well — went up 2-1. Their talented duo of Shayla Padilla (hitting) and Grace Keilbach (digging) kept D’Evelyn in the match.
“Coach has been talking about one more week with the seniors, especially Ali, and we really wanted that one more week and that one last chance to play together,” said Frank, about the talk in the huddle before the fifth game. “Most teams don’t get that.”
In the final match against Pueblo West, the Tigers came out quickly and asserted themselves as the team to beat. They jumped out to a 12-2 early advantage on a Cyclones team that was desperate, especially after dropping their first match to D’Evelyn in four games.
The Cylcones made things interesting down the stretch in both games two and three — even scoring six straight points in the final set to get within 24-23 — before Travis closed out the match with her final kill on her home court.
“I think to come in to today and work out some stuff and get better while your doing it, that was our goal, because we just haven’t had that time as we add girls back and get healthy,” Solomon said. “To get better today was a big thing for us and they finished strong, the finished aggressive and we were glad to do that in three for sure.”
Solomon pointed to Travis, who was playing in her fourth regional tournament in this gym, and her experience on this stage as invaluable: “That’s going to pay off especially for our young girls, but I was excited to get that last ball to her. I was just saying get it to her and let her finish the game for us.”
The Tigers will await their seeding in the new double elimination format tournament and will likely move up a spot to No. 7 — and in the process avoid juggernaut Lewis-Palmer in the early rounds — after Erie lost at home in their regional.