LITTLETON — Evergreen volleyball is on the same path it was three years ago that yielded a trip to the Denver Coliseum.
In 2015 the Cougars won the Class 4A Jeffco League title with a 9-0 conference mark that included a road victory against Valor Christian to complete the sweep through league. Evergreen went on an impressive postseason run that finally ended in the 4A state semifinals.
“My goal since freshman year has been to make it to state,” said Evergreen senior Katie Hays, who was on junior varsity when the Cougars last made state. “With eight seniors I feel this is our best chance to go really far this season.”
Tuesday night at Littleton High School the Cougars (17-3, 11-0 in league) official wrapped up the conference title again, cruising to a 25-10, 25-15, 25-16 victory over the Lions.
“I honestly didn’t think about this win being the one to win league,” Evergreen senior Claudia Dillon said. “It was cool to walk away knowing we’ve got it.”
Evergreen, ranked No. 7 in the final CHSAANow.com Class 4A volleyball poll, has won 12 straight under first-round coach Gail Andrews.
The Cougars have a chance to go undefeated again this year in conference play. Evergreen faces D’Evelyn in a league finale for both 4A Jeffco teams at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at Evergreen High School. The Jaguars, second in the league, pushed the Cougars to a five-set match first go-around Sept. 25.
“D’Evelyn is a good team and is going to bring it,” Andrews said. “They took us to five last time. It’s fun to play against them for sure.”
Evergreen closes out the regular season hosting The Classical Academy and 4A’s No. 9 Holy Family in a round-robin tournament Saturday, Oct. 27.
The Colorado High School Activities Association will release state-qualifying regional tournament brackets Monday, Oct. 29. The Cougars are nearly a lock to host one of the dozen 4A regional tournaments Saturday, Nov. 3.
“We are really gearing up toward that,” Andrews said of regionals. “We are trying to work out the kinks in our own system and getting everything together.”
The Cougars had everything going against the Lions (6-12, 4-7). The Dillon sisters — Claudia and Hayley — set the tone early up front, along with some first-set kills from junior Gillian Hoerman. It was Claudia who put the exclamation mark on the first set.
The University of Missouri-commit served out the opening set with 11 straight points off her serve. The Cougars went from up 14-10 in the first set to Claudia using pin-point placement on 11 straight serves to win 25-10.
“That usually isn’t something I’m really known for,” said Claudia, one of the strongest outside hitters in the state. “It’s something I’ve definitely been developing over the years. I was just working on zones and placing it.”
Andrews got all her players involved as the Cougars dominated the final two sets to close out the match.
“It feels incredible,” Hays said. “It’s a really good way to leave our mark on the season to actually win league.”
The goal for Evergreen now is to close out the regular season strong to enter the postseason with plenty of confidence. Extending the season into a return trip to the Denver Coliseum for the state tournament is the clear mission ahead.
“We are really going to make the most of the time together as long as we’ve got it,” Andrews said.