All-state volleyball honorees Kaira Smith and Allie Garcia celebrate at the Colorado State Volleyball Tournament.

Mara Abernethy, Sports Editor

In the most surprising performance in the 2015 Colorado State Volleyball Championships, Coronado volleyball took fifth in 5A in the Colorado state tournament.

Following a five-set regional victory over Highlands Ranch’s second-ranked Mountain Vista on Nov. 7, the Cougars entered state as the twelfth and lowest seed in the tournament, set to compete against first-ranked Chatfield and eighth-ranked Fairview.

“It all started the weekend at Regionals when we were set up to lose by playing the number two seed in 5A. Mountain Vista was knocked off their feet when our mighty volleyball team of young athletes took over the court…” said Allie Garcia, 12.

The Cougars began the state tournament with a match against leader of 5A, Chatfield (24-3). Following wins in the second and third sets by the Cougars, Coronado was deprived of a victory by the Chatfield Chargers 15-6 in the fifth set. A victory by Fairview (22-7) against Chatfield later in Friday’s pool play granted what CHSAA Now, the Colorado High School Activity Association’s Media outlet, described as 5A’s “biggest underdog” a second chance to advance to the semifinals.

The Cougars took on the Fairview Knights at 9:30 the following morning, suffering losses in the first and third sets but defeating Fairview 25-18 in the fourth set to ensure a final, fifth,  determining set to 15.  The dawn of the fifth set proved disastrous for the Cougars, who erred several times to eventually fall behind by a deficit of 9-2. However, following a stellar bout of defense and serving, the Cougars tied the game up at 9-9. Hinging on their increasing momentum, the Cougars concluded the game 15-13, pushing Pool #1 of the Colorado State Championship 5A Volleyball Tournament to a tiebreaker.

“We played with more heart than any other team,” said senior Madison Brown, recipient of  Coronado’s senior superlative for Most Athletic Girl, “We had the best team chemistry in the state and that is what took us so far…”

Following the conclusion of the remainder of 5A’s pool play matches, the Cougars took the court once again for a single set to 25 points to settle the dispute with Chatfield. The Cougars prevailed, however, dusting the Chargers 25-18.

Next up was Fairview, the concluding set of the tie breaker. The Cougars began the game at a deficit, victim of aggressive serves by the Knights. Coronado eventually came within range of the Knights, 25-18, but fell short of the semifinals by just two points, defeated by Fairview 25-23 to conclude Coronado’s remarkable season.

“We pulled off what only we knew was possible. They said it couldn’t be done, but we knocked off the number one and two seed[s] in two weekends and finished with a stellar 5th place finish…What a fantastic and thrilling journey it’s been with my best friends,” said Garcia.

“[This Season was the] best experience I have ever had and it was a true blessing to be able to spend it with this wonderful group of girls. And to watch us play at the level we got to was absolutely amazing. No one should doubt that we belonged at state,” said junior Julia Austin.

2015 Coronado volleyball boasted two all-league league honorable mentions, sophomores Jaelyn Hershberger and Mara Abernethy, one all league second team selectee, Delaney St. Pierre, 10, as well as two first team all-league players, seniors Kaira Smith and Allie Garcia. Libero Allie Garcia was also selected to the 5A All-State First Team as well as the 5A All-State First Academic Team. Coached by head coach Don Lash and assistant coach Stormie Wells, the Cougars concluded the 2014/2015 volleyball season 20-7.