Vail Christian qualifies for 2A state girls volleyball tournament

Saints defeat Ignacio and Lake County on Friday to keep season alive

Vail Christian won the 2A Region 6 volleyball tournament last Friday in Vail, qualifying as the No. 6-seed for the 2A state tournament in Denver this Thursday-Saturday.
Tom Green/Courtesy photo

Three days after All Saints’ Day, it was “all Saints” at Vail Christian High School as the Region 6 hosts defeated Ignacio and swept Lake County to qualify for the 2A state volleyball tournament in Denver next week.

“I’m super excited to get us back to state,” head coach Adina Petersmeyer said. “When we went two years ago it was COVID and it was single elimination — since then I’ve been really working on getting them back to that stage, so to secure that today feels awesome.”

 “It’s very emotional if I’m being honest,” added outside hitter Grace Engleby. “It’s like the best feeling ever.”

On Wednesday, Petersmeyer alluded to the folly of sleeping on No. 31 Ignacio; her words were prescient, as the Bobcats pushed the No. 6 Saints to the brink in Friday’s first match.

Daisy Palacio goes up for the kill against Ignacio during the 2A Region 6 volleyball tournament.
Tom Green/Courtesy photo

“We totally underestimated them,” Engleby said. “They really came out and gave us a run for our money.” 

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After the Saints’ 25-18 opening-set win, Ignacio led wire-to-wire to win the second 25-19. The Bobcats jumped out to a 12-7 lead in the third, and even with the game tied at 15-15, had the casual observer confused as to who was supposed to be the favorite.

“I think we could have played a little bit better — I thought we underestimated them,” sophomore libero Jessie Allen reiterated. The Saints took their first lead at 17-16, and, with Allen serving, finished the third game 25-23. Ignacio refused to retreat, however, coming back from an initial 7-3 deficit to stake a 20-18 lead in the fourth. Petersmeyer called for time, hoping to shift the energy in her team’s favor.

Coach Adina Petersmeyer instructs the members of the Saints’ volleyball team during a timeout against Ignacio.
Tom Green/Courtesy photo

“I told them, we have a lot of experience playing from behind and closing out sets and matches, so you have nothing to worry about,” Petersmeyer recalled. “This isn’t on the brink right now. This is actually still your house, your game.”

Jessie Allen makes a dig during Friday’s first game against Ignacio. The Saints won in four sets.
Tom Green/Courtesy photo

Her team tied it at 20, but a 3-0 Bobcat run actually did seem to put the Saints on their heels. A marathon volley nearly went the Bobcat’s way, but Allen dove to keep the ball alive, eventually winning a critical point for the Saints.

“I feel like everyone kind of looked at each other and I was like, no one’s going for it, so might as well try and get a touch on it,” Allen said of the play. Afterward, the sophomore turned to senior Maya Telles and said something — according to Petersmeyer — along the lines of “bring us home,” as the team’s captain prepared to serve.

“That was really great to see — the young leadership taking charge and telling her captain that we believed in her,” the coach said.

Telles served the Saints to the 25-23, 3-1 match win.

The Saints celebrate a big point against Ignacio on Friday.
Tom Green/Courtesy photo

“I think it was just we all had to look at each other and ask, “do you want to win — do you really want it?” Engleby said of the game’s turning point. “You have to play that way and I think when we all got that mindset, we played our best.”

Payton Vermeer and Grace Engleby block an Ignacio spike on Friday.
Tom Green/Courtesy photo

In the second match of the day, No. 19 Lake County (19-4) lost setter Maggie Roeder to injury in the first set — and were without star Jaycee Windorski for the whole day. The deflated Panthers dropped the first to Ignacio, but were resilient in the second, winning 25-17. The Panthers led for much of the third before falling 25-22, and then lost 25-11 in the fourth.

With the opportunity to sweep the region, the Saints took advantage of a tired Lake County team 30 minutes later, going up 9-0 in the first set behind Allen’s serving.

“Obviously with Lake County not being healthy, we saw a very different team than what got them here,” Petersmeyer admitted.

Though the Panthers were never really in the first game, their fire didn’t flame out. With the score 18-8, Engleby sent a high-speed spike that Lake County libero Shaylene Martinez barely got a forearm on. The receive soared backward, where Isabelle Macias made a body-sacrificing save to keep it alive. Then, Makayla Arellano dashed into the frame to make an over-the-head third shot somehow sail from the baseline to the Saints’ side, sustaining the epic volley.

Jessie Allen serves the ball during the Saints afternoon game against Lake County at the 2A Region 6 volleyball tournament.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

“Yeah they were good passers,” Engleby complimented. “Usually when you have the momentum, you’re ready to get kill after kill, but they kept picking them up.”

Grace Engleby spikes the ball against Ignacio in Friday’s 2A Region 6 volleyball tournament.
Tom Green/Courtesy photo

A late 3-0 Panther run made the 25-13 final a little bit closer, but there was no answer for Engleby’s high-flying kills in the next two sets, which started in the same fashion as the first — with the Saints building large leads.

An 8-1 opening advantage culminated with a Daisy Palacio spike and 25-17 second-set win, while the 6-0 start to the third turned into a 19-4 advantage and 25-9 match-sealing, state-qualifying victory.

“I just love my team — they all work so hard, all of our coaches have put in so much time, and we really earned this,” Engleby said.

Payton Vermeer and Logan Nobrega go up for a block in the second game of the Region 6 tournament against Lake County.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

The state tournament is next Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Denver Coliseum.

“Making it was the first goal,” Allen added. “But now our goal is to win state.”

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