All teams like to win. The Thompson Valley High School girls volleyball team hates to lose.
Seriously, ask ahead coach Lester Thorne. What his team managed to achieve in the third and ultimately deciding set in the Class 4A girls final Saturday night at the Denver Coliseum attests to that.
Trailing 16-10 to Windsor after taking the opening two sets, Thorne’s team didn’t panic. They rallied. The Eagles (27-2) stormed back with eight consecutive points and went on to close out the game for a second consecutive Class 4A title. The scores were 25-23, 25-20 and 25-21.
“They are so battle-worn and have been through a lot of games like tonight,” Thorne said. “The winning is always great, but they hate to lose more than they ever like winning. That keeps us focused when we were down and mostly what I tell them when they are in those situations is, ‘Stay calm, get back to playing our game and go one point at a time.’”
The Eagles have five seniors and none of them exemplified the fight more than middle hitter Zoe Rollins. She wheeled onto the court in the madhouse celebrations afterwards. The senior middle blocker was partially paralyzed in a single-car accident in 2021, but was still determined to be a part of the program. On senior day, with assistance from a parent, she successfully served the ball over the net.
From her senior day serve, she’s seen how the Eagles can also fight for one another during matches, as proved by their flawless state tournament in which they never lost a set. Their only losses this season came against 5A opposition.
“With our team, we’ve all known one another since we were little and we’ve been so close,” Rollins said. “I think everyone got a little nervous and played a little frantic, but everyone in their head knew we would pull through eventually. Because we always do, no matter what.”
For Windsor, it was a whirlwind tournament, as the Wizards (25-5) reached their first final since 1996. On Saturday, the team battled and won two five-set games, including against top-seed Lewis Palmer. Captain Julia Bohlinger said that while the loss stung, it will ultimately prove to be fuel for next fall.
“I’ve played in two championships for basketball and playing this, what you gain from losing a game like that, it carries on,” Bohlinger said. “It doesn’t fade here, and so the motivation will stay. … I’m incredibly proud because of how we bounced back with multiple injuries, ups and downs. The way we composed ourselves to push through and do something that nobody thought we could do.”
3A: Platte Valley holds on to win
The Lamar Thunder (29-1) stormed back by fending off three consecutive match points in the fifth set on Saturday. But in the end, after a timeout, Platte Valley found a way to get the final two points to claim the Class 3A title, with scores of 28-30, 25-20, 25-21,19-25 and 16-14.
It was the program’s 15th team title — the most in state history — but first since 2003.
“I think for us it’s just important we’re never outworked,” head coach Ryleigh Haynes said. “That was our motto all year. You might run into teams that can hit harder and are stronger, but if you’re willing to work harder than your opponent, good things are going to happen and they did exactly that.”