Eaton wins second-straight 3A volleyball championship

Eaton players celebrate winning the 3A volleyball championship. (Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)

Eaton players celebrate winning the 3A volleyball championship. (Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)

DENVER – Bringing home a state championship as a freshman and a junior was sweet, but Kortney Lockey is going to cherish her final title just a little bit more.

The Eaton senior helped deliver the Reds a third Class 3A trophy in four years, and in doing so the Reds became the first 3A squad to go back-to-back since Colorado Springs Christian in 2008-09. Lockey had 10 kills, including the one on match point to seal a 25-22, 25-13, 26-24 sweep of Valley on Saturday night at the Denver Coliseum.

“Winning as a freshman and a junior is absolutely amazing,” Lockey said. “But to be a senior and just end your career with a state championship is the best feeling ever.”

Eaton (28-1) closed out the 2014 state tournament without dropping a single set. The Reds swept both pool play matches before holding off CSCS 25-23, 26-24, 25-16 in the semifinals.

“It means a lot to me because throughout my whole high school career I’ve never been to state without giving up at least one set,” Lockey said. “This year was my first clean sweep ever at state.

“We talked about finishing in three because anything can happen at state.”

Valley (25-4), which knocked out Manitou Springs in Saturday’s semifinals, has historically played Eaton as well as any team in the state. The Vikings dropped both regular-season meetings with the Reds, but took Eaton to five sets in the first matchup and took a set on Oct. 21 – the last team to do so to Eaton this season.

“It’s a state championship every time we play each other,” Reds coach Gwen Forster said. “We play each other the same way, so we knew it was important that we had to be able to go 0-0 and start fresh with them.”

Sophomore Tarynn Sieg led the charge Saturday, finishing the title match with a team-high 13 kills and eight blocks. Lindy Dixon had 10 kills, and freshman Chelsey Lockey recorded 36 assists and 18 digs. Bailey Schumacher led the team with 23 digs and Karlee Garland added 11.

It looked like Eaton would have another fight on its hands early Saturday night. Valley led 8-5 before Eaton began to surge back, with Dixon recording a pair of big kills during a 7-0 run. Sieg was equally big at the net, eventually putting the first set away with a kill.

Sieg was even more impressive in the second set, where Eaton never allowed Valley to make a run.

“Tarynn’s done a fabulous job this season and there’s not too many teams that can defend her,” Forster said. “She’s big and physical. Teams tend to camp out on Kort, but we had so many more weapons in our arsenal.”

The Vikings remained patient in the third set, allowing Eaton’s aggressive play to work against the Reds at times. Valley took a 21-19 lead on a kill by senior Cori Aafedt, but the block of Sieg and Kinzy Anderson put the Reds back into it.

Lockey put the match away with a routine hit that the Vikings were unable to return.

“I guess it wasn’t exactly the way I wanted it to end,” Lockey said with a laugh. “But it feels really cool to get the final kill and end your career that way.”

Both teams figure to be right back in the mix again next season. Valley graduates six seniors, including big hitters in Layne Pachl, Abby Wehrman, Micayla Crespin and Aafedt, but sophomores Ashlyn Martinez and Brooke Schilling enjoyed impressive showings against Eaton.

The Reds lose only two seniors in Lockey and Anderson.

“That’s what is nice, is we continue to build,” Forster said. “Obviously we always have another freshman class coming up, but even if you’re not stepping foot on the floor, we have so much depth that we knew we could rely on any one of them at any time.”