Grandview sweeps Arapahoe to claim 5A volleyball title

(Kevin Keyser/KeyserImages.com)

(Kevin Keyser/KeyserImages.com)

DENVER -- Morgan Montgomery tripped over her teammate, yet still managed to flail an arm at the ball. Somehow, she connected and sent it toward the net. It clipped the top, and fell to the ground for a point.

Montgomery turned around, almost looking embarrassed, shrugged her shoulders and laughed. As if to say, That was ridiculous.

"They always say, 'The team with the momentum, the ball's going to fall in your court.' And it definitely did," Montgomery, a Grandview senior, would say afterward. "Haley (McLaren) and I just went for it. We didn't know what was going on. It just went in our favor and we're so thankful for that."

Everything, it seemed, went in Grandview's favor during the Class 5A volleyball championship match against Arapahoe on Saturday night at the Denver Coliseum. The Wolves won a back-and-forth first set, 25-22, then rolled to a 25-12 win in the second and secured the title with a 25-17 win in the third.

Saturday's match marked Grandview's 23rd-straight win this season. In fact, the Wolves hadn't dropped a set since Oct. 15 before losing one to Cherry Creek in the semifinals.

"It was a nice run, a great way to finish my high school career," said senior Alyssa Svalberg.

It was the fourth title in Grandview's history. The Wolves also won in 2007, 2005 and 2004. But Grandview's recent trips to the title game -- there have now been nine of them -- ended in defeats. The squad was runner-up each of the last two seasons.

"It's nice to be on this side again," Wolves coach Patty Childress said.

"This is our third time in the state finals, so all the kids -- me, Morgan, Sydney (Ederhoff) and Claire (Gordon) -- who have been through three state titles now, we just wanted this so bad," Svalberg said. "Not only for ourselves, but for everyone and our coach.

"Every single person on our team is a factor, no matter how much they play, no matter what. We're just such a big family, and all the seniors just came out so strong. We knew from Day 1, even before tryouts, we were like, 'This is our mission.'"

So what was the difference? How was Grandview able to make the jump from a two-time bridesmaid? This year, there were eight seniors leading the way.

"Last year, we had one senior and she was real quiet," Childress said. "So these kids had to step up and lead as juniors. I think that helped."

Saturday was the third meeting between Grandview and Arapahoe this season. Grandview won all three, but, "Every time we've played," Childress said, "it's just been back-and-forth."

Arapahoe actually jumped out to an 8-4 lead in the first set during Saturday's title match. But Childress called a timeout, calmed her bunch, and they proceeded to chip away. The lead shrunk to 12-9, then it was 14-13, then 16-16. Grandview eventually grabbed a 21-20 lead in that game and held on. For good.

That's because Grandview jumped all over Arapahoe in the second game. It was 7-2 before the Warriors blinked. Then Wolves junior Sarah Mullens, who only recently returned from knee surgery, went on an ace binge which sparked a back-breaking seven-point run to make it 17-5.

"They hadn't really passed against Sarah because this is the first time she's played against them," Childress said. "All the kids on the bench were just saying, 'Well now they know what we go through everyday in practice. We have to deal with her serving to us.'"

When the third game rolled around, Grandview again jumped out big. It was 5-1 and 10-4 early. Mongomery's flailing, falling point made it 11-5, and was fitting at that time. Grandview was a wave, washing over the 5A field.

"We had," Svalberg said, "an insane season."

(Kevin Keyser/KeyserImages.com)

(Kevin Keyser/KeyserImages.com)