Coach Gwen Forester wanted her team, Eaton, to have one mindset going into their state volleyball championship final: “Envision greatness.”
Eaton, the top seed in the tournament, took home the Class 3A volleyball championship after sweeping Manitou Springs 3-0 in the title match Saturday at Denver Coliseum.
The two teams traded leads multiple times to open the first game. The largest run came in the closing points of the first set after they were tied at 20. Eaton strung together a series of impressive points from their front row and won the next five points to take the game.
Manitou Springs opened the second game on a 5-2 run. Eaton swiftly battled right back, and won 10-straight points. The streak got snapped when Manitou Springs scored a point off a missed block by Eaton. The game belonged to Eaton, which dominated their serving points in winning it 25-13 and taking a 2-0 set lead.
Eaton played a near-perfect third set, beating Manitou Springs 25-12. A large part of that was behind solid play from seniors Brittany Pierce, Kinzy Anderson and Haynes. The seniors displayed consistency and strength as they anchored all parts of the court.
In 2011, Eaton won the 3A state tournament by beating Colorado Academy 3-0 in the final.
“This biggest difference between that team and this year’s team is that we are now much bigger and stronger," Foster said. "We’re continuing to build a great program.”
The team has two state crowns in the past three years, and five in school history. Eaton finished their 2013 season at 27-1 en route to winning the championship. The Reds only loss of came at Manitou Springs on Sept. 7, when Eaton got swept 25-19 and 25-18.
The longest road to the finals belonged to Manitou Springs, which had to come back from down two sets in their two match prior facing Eaton. In the quarters against Gunnison, Manitou Springs won 23-25, 23-25, 25-13, 25-14, 15-11. It again went five games against Valley in the semis winning, 23-25, 22-25, 25-19, 15-5.
Manitou Springs made its last state final appearance in 1999, and have participated in the championship game seven times in the schools' history. Its' only championship came in 1992.
In the semifinals, Eaton had a much more challenging opponent in Holy Family. Eaton was able to capture the first two games 25-10 and 25-14 but lost the third and fourth 23-25 and 21-25. In the final game, Eaton mustered their talent and won 15-11.