COLORADO SPRINGS — It wasn't the most ideal start for Palmer Ridge, but it's not the start that counts. It's the finish. The Bears completed a 25-17, 25-9, 25-14 sweep over No. 3 Palisade to advance to the semifinals of the Class 4A girls volleyball tournament.
It's the second straight state semifinal appearance for Palmer Ridge and the team is hoping to get back to the state championship match, where they made it last year before losing to rival Lewis-Palmer.
But there is no Lewis-Palmer to overcome this season. And by knocking out the No. 3 team on the bracket, advancing to a state title match is very much in the cards and something the Bears expect out of themselves after being there in November 2019.
"Our games this season were a little rougher than last season," senior Riley Anderson said. "I feel like with that (win over Palisade), we finally showed what we were made of and what we could do."
The Bears had to battle through some nerves early as Palisade jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first set. Once they found their footing, the Bears clawed right back into the match and eventually jumped out to a 10-7 lead, forcing the Bulldogs to call timeout and try to make some adjustments.
But that was easier said than done. The Bears took firm control of the first set and never let up through the next two to get the win and remain alive for Thursday's slate of games.
In this single-elimination bracket, the stakes tend to feel a bit higher with each points and even after getting a win, the Bears know how much pressure each team is facing. To alleviate the pressure, the Bears have taken a stance to play more aggressively to maintain an element of control.
"We've talked all season about being more aggressive," Anderson said. "We have to give it our all from the start and we've shown that here."
(1) Windsor 3, (8) The Classical Academy 0
Top-seeded Windsor had to fend off a scrappy TCA team but came away with a 26-24, 25-22, 25-20 win to advance to the 4A semifinals.
The Titans hung tough through the first set, extending it past the necessary 25-point mark to determine a winner. After the Wizards claimed the first set, they were able to keep TCA at an arm's length for the rest of the match to remain undefeated on the year. Windsor will be back on the floor at at 2 p.m. Thursday for their semifinal match against Mead.
(2) Cheyenne Mountain 3, (7) Discovery Canyon 0
In the first match of the season, Discovery Canyon had Cheyenne Mountain down 2-0 before Cheyenne Mountain roared back to tie the match and send it to a deciding fifth set where they closed it out.
Cheyenne Mountain learned a valuable lesson in starting strong so that battling from behind isn't necessary. This time, the Thunder wasn't given an opportunity to take the lead as Cheyenne Mountain pulled away in the third set to get a 25-17, 25-19, 25-15 win and advance to the semifinals for the second straight year.
Cheyenne Mountain will meet PPAC rival Palmer Ridge at 11 a.m. on Thursday.
(5) Mead 3, (4) Coronado 1
Coronado claimed the first set, but ran out of steam allowing Mead to climb back and get a 16-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-16 win to move on to Thursday's semifinals.
Mead entered the 2019 tournament as the No. 4 seed but dropped their first two matches for a stunning early exit. That's not the case this year as the Mavericks will meet Windsor on Thursday at 2 p.m.
Windsor won the regular season meeting 3-2 on April 19.