No. 11 Ralston Valley volleyball springs to 3-1 win over Lakewood

ARVADA — There was no break Tuesday for Lakewood and Ralston Valley girls volleyball teams despite Jeffco Public Schools being on Spring Break this week.

The Tigers hit the road to face the Mustangs — No. 11 in this week’s Class 5A volleyball rankings — in a key early 5A Jeffco League match-up. Ralston Valley remained undefeated on the season with a 3-1 victory over Lakewood (3-2, 1-1 in league).

“We weren’t really worried about it too much,” Ralston Valley senior Taylor Scherff said of playing a conference game during Jeffco’s Spring Break. “It has been a weird year and we’ve adapted over our club seasons. We are just really grateful to come in here, play our game and play together.”

Ralston Valley senior Taylor Scherff (4) hit the ball past Lakewood junior Naomi Fanchi (10) and senior Morgan Steck (9) during the Class 5A Jeffco League match Tuesday. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

It was a bit of a rough start for the Mustangs (6-0, 2-0). The Tigers came out strong take a 25-21 victory in the opening set. Lakewood seniors Morgan Steck and Jada Hall led the way for Lakewood.

The Tigers do have a couple of quality non-league victories under their belts already this season. Lakewood grabbed victories over Highlands Ranch and Broomfield, teams both ranked in the top-15 of the Class 5A rankings this week.

“This team plays really well when their backs are up against the wall,” Ralston Valley coach Ashley Ahlman said. “The first set going the way it did wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for us. It kind of gave us a wake-up call.”

It was all Ralston Valley in the final three sets. The Mustangs took a trio of 25-17 victories to stay undefeated on the season.

While Scherff did a lot of damage offensively with her spikes from the outside, seniors Jamie Dorczuk, Zoe Grolnic and Gabi Coombs, along with juniors Morgan McChesney, Jordan Wisner and Emerson Reinke all played big roles in the win.

“We’ve got a pretty talented team with it comes to a spread-out offense,” Ahlman said. “We’ve got a phenomenal setter (Reinke) that can put the ball in anyone’s hands. We’ve been focusing on playing for each other. This is the first time that we have really seen that happen. I’m more proud of that then anything.”

Ralston Valley senior Morgan McChesney (3) attempts to put down a kill on Lakewood junior Naomi Fanchi (10) and sophomore Sydney Kitzmiller (8) during Tuesday's match at Ralston Valley High School. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Ralston Valley is attempting to end Valor Christian’s dominance in 5A Jeffco since the Eagles joined the conference for the 2018 season. Valor has won back-to-back league titles in 2018 and 2019, along with winning the 5A state title in 2018 and being state runner-up in 2019.

“Valor has been the reigning champs of this league, but we feel like we are ready,” Scherff said.

Valor (1-1, 0-1) already has a league loss on the season with Chatfield (1-1, 1-0) defeating the Eagles in a conference opener last week. Ralston Valley has three games next week, including a huge showdown a home against the Chargers next Thursday.

“It’s been awhile since we’ve competed for that league title,” Ahlman said. “We kind of think it’s someone else’s turn. We are pretty excited about the opportunity.”

The Tigers are back on the court when they host Dakota Ridge in a conference game Tuesday, April 6, next week.

The playoff format during this year’s Season C girls volleyball season that was moved from its normal Fall season slot will feature the league champion in each conference getting an automatic bid to the 24-team regional playoffs.

The rest of the field will be determined by RPI seeding criteria. The eight regional champions will advance to the single-eliminate state tournament scheduled for May 10 and 11.

Lakewood junior Haven Hill-Schmick (3) tries to put down a spike between Ralston Valley juniors Jordan Wisner (7) and Morgan McChesney (3). The Mustangs lost the opening set 25-21, but rallied with a trio of 25-17 set victories to take a 3-1 win over their Class 5A Jeffco League rival. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)