It did not quite go as the Yuma High School volleyball hoped, last week at the Class 2A State Volleyball Tournament in Denver.
The Indians were in the program’s eighth straight 2A tournament, but for the first time during that stretch came home winless. They lost to Simla in four sets in their tournament opener on Thursday, then fell to Wiggins in straight sets the next morning in the Elimination Bracket.
Both those teams went on to reach the semifinals on Saturday, but it did not take away from the sting of going home after two matches.
Yuma finished with a 14-13 record.
“It’s nice to get to state, but you can’t stop there,” head coach Jenny Noble said. “It was difficult to take.”
The coach said it was tough because she said she felt it was not so much a matter of getting beat by better teams, but rather the Indians hurting their own cause.
“If we did one part right, the next was bad,” Noble said. “We just could not make it happen. The unforced errors added up.”
Yuma, the 11th seed, opened tourney play Thursday morning against sixth-seed Simla, another regular participant in the state tournament.
The Indians had several good stretches, but lost the first set 19-25.
It felt as if they outplayed the Cubs for most of the second set, but fell again, 21-25.
Yuma finally broke through with a gusty 25-23 win in the third set.
The Indians were in position to win the fourth, and force a deciding final set to 15, but could not hold on, losing 21-25.
Sophomore Elle Roth had a big match at the net with 20 kills, and junior Ema Richardson also was effective with 16, and senior Steph Sauer added six kills. Senior Reagan Nolin recorded 40 setting assists, and classmate Lainey Mekelburg had four. Sauer was tough on the blocks again with six, while Mekelburg was in on three.
Serving was solid overall at 94.3 percent. Nolin was 21-22 with one ace, Jayci Mekelburg 15-15, Richardson 13-15, Giselle Gutierrez 11-12 with one ace, Tannah Gates 11-12, and Roth 11-11. The Indians struggled on digs with 40 errors out of 84 chances. They were better in service receive, though they still had eight errors. Roth was 31-31 and J. Mekelburg 25-27.
“We couldn’t get the consistent play needed to get the win,” Noble said. “You’ve got to do that to compete at state.”
The loss dropped the Indians into the Elimination Bracket in the double-elimination format, which meant they had to wait until Friday morning for their next match.
They ended up playing Lower Platte Activities Association foe Wiggins, the fifth seed. The Tigers had swept 12th-seed Fountain Valley in the first round, but then lost to fouth-seed Union Colony in straight sets later Thursday.
Yuma had beat Wiggins, in Wiggins, in a thrilling five-game set in October. However, they were unable to replicate that last Friday in the state tournament, losing 23-25, 24-26, 21-25 in three competitive sets.
The Indians missed prime opportunities to claim victories and take control of the match. Noble noted the Indians frequently had five-point leads in both state matches, but could not take advantage.
“Both teams were good, but we didn’t play to our potential,” Noble said. “We had sizeable leads in both matches, and we did all we could do to relinquish them. We did not have the will to finish it out. No team was dominant that we could not play with them.”
Richardson had a strong match with 17 kills, while Roth had 12, and Nolin four. Nolin had 31 setting assists, and L. Mekelburg three. Richardson was in on three blocks, Sauer two, and Nolin, Guttierez, Richardson and Roth one each. Yuma had 31 digging errors in 63 attempts. Roth was 22-23 in serve receive, Gates 16-17 and J. Mekelburg 15-17.
Serving was at 91.3 percent, as Gates was 13-14 with one ace, J. Mekelburg 12-13 with two aces, Nolin 11-12 with one ace, Roth 11-12, Richardson 9-9 with one ace, and Gutierrez 7-9.
Simla was swept by Meeker after beating Yuma, but came back to beat Fountain Valley, West Grand and Union Colony to reach the semifinals, where the Cubs lost to Limon in four sets. Wiggins, after beating Yuma, also beat Fowler and Meeker to reach the semifinals, where the Tigers lost to Denver Christian.
Denver Christian beat Limon in four sets Saturday night to win the 2A title, which Yuma owned last season.
The state tournament ended the high school careers of Yuma seniors Reagan Nolin, Steph Sauer and Lainey Mekelburg, but the Indians return a lot of young talent. However, Noble noted that Denver Christian and Wiggins both were young this season.
“It will be tough again next year,” she said. “We just need to find that fire…the state tournament summarized our whole season; we were here and there and everywhere.”