4A girls volleyball: Palmer Ridge tops Mead for program's first state title

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Class 4A girls volleyball state championship will remain in District 38, but it'll sit in a trophy case in an entirely different building.

After coming so close in recent years, including a runner-up finish in 2019, Palmer Ridge can finally add a state volleyball banner to the walls. The Bears beat Mead 25-21, 20-25, 25-20, 25-20 to win the school's first state championship in the sport.

"Last year we got that runner-up trophy and it didn't feel good to any of us," senior Riley Anderson said. "Now getting the state championship trophy is amazing."

It was a journey that began with a win over No. 3 Palisade in the quarterfinals and then the Bears (13-5 overall) had to get through Pikes Peak Athletic Conference rival Cheyenne Mountain to reach the championship match.

"Cheyenne Mountain was a very good thing for us today," coach Erica Bradley said. "It was super competitive and I kind of wish it was a championship game but it was nice to go up against an unfamiliar opponent."

Standing in the way was a Mead team that had taken out No. 1 Windsor and also watched in March as its boys basketball team won a state title on the same floor at the Broadmoor World Arena.

Mead almost appeared to be a team of destiny. But for Palmer Ridge, their championship win was that of fate.

The Bears controlled the first set from the opening serve and although the Mavericks (13-5) made a late rally, the gap was too wide to close before Palmer Ridge closed it out.

The second set was a different story altogether. The Mavericks maintained their momentum from the end of the first and used it to build a 15-8 lead, forcing a Palmer Ridge timeout. A massive kill from Quincey Coyle seemed to knock the Bears on their heels. They couldn't quite regain the momentum they had early in the match and the Mavericks held on to win the set.

That's when grit kicked in and Palmer Ridge started playing on a different level. The hitters put down kills and the front line came through on what seemed like every clutch block that it needed.

Anderson finished the match with 23 kills and 14 digs. Madi Wilson added 12 kills to give the Bears a bit of a balanced attack.

"They won that second set and we knew we had to come back strong," Wilson said. "We had to keep our momentum going."

And they had to slow down the hitting attack of Coyle and Kenzie Morton. They did a much better job in the in the last two sets which was a big reason they walked away with the championship.

"We started to figure out how to block them and where they were hitting," Wilson added.

This is the first volleyball state title for Palmer Ridge and the first time since 2007 that the 4A title wasn't won by either Cheyenne Mountain or Lewis-Palmer.

But the reign of the PPAC will continue for at least another year.

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)