DENVER — It feels like we’ve seen this before, only slightly different.
For the second year in a row, Chaparral and Valor Christian met in the Class 5A volleyball state championship match. Only this time it was the Chaparral Wolverines who came out on top defeating the Eagles, 23-25, 26-24, 25-11, 25-23 to claim their program’s third volleyball title and avenge last season’s finals loss.
And for Julianna and Katie Dalton, whose older sisters were on the team the last time Chaparral won state in 2010 and 2011, it was an extra special moment to bring a trophy of their own back to Chaparral High and place it next to the others.
“I don’t think we played our best volleyball but this team, we knew we weren’t going to lose,” Julianna Dalton said. “There was no doubt in our minds and all of us wanted it just as bad as the person next to us. It was a rematch of last year so we wanted it even more. The last time we won was with my sisters and it’s me and my sister, so it’s just an honor and I’m so happy we did it for the school.”
Seeded No. 1 overall, Chaparral also beat No. 4 Valor Christian in the third round of this year’s double-elimination Olympic crossover bracket on Friday. The Wolverines lost only two matches this season and avenged one of them with a 25-17, 29-27, 20-25, 29-27 win over rival Legend in the semifinals.
After dropping the first set in the finals, Chaparral head coach Amanda West said she was impressed with the Wolverines’ ability to remain focused and get back on track.
“We leaned on our strengths, which are our versatility and our team chemistry,” West said. “I think those two things, especially there in that second set where we were down and had to battle back up to win by two, that was pretty key for us. I knew this team had what it took and we went out in our first match of the season and lost big to Cherokee Trail in their home gym so we kept talking about how we don’t want to feel that way anymore and what we were going to do to avoid that.
“This was always in the back of our minds but the goal was to stay present. It’s cool to see all of that hard work from all of us pay off.”
The Eagles rallied through the elimination bracket and swept No. 7 Fort Collins, 25-21, 25-21, 25-18 in the semifinals on Saturday to reach the championship match on Saturday night. Valor Christian won its first volleyball state title last season and has played in either the 5A or 4A state championship match in each of the last three seasons.