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MEEKER | Many believe it is hard to beat a good team three times in a season, but the Meeker volleyball team made the challenge look easy, beating Paonia in three games for a third time in the past three weeks, advancing them to the regional championship game where they defeated the Ridgway Demons to win a regional title and advance to the state tournament. Meeker will enter the 2017 2A Colorado State Volleyball Championships as the seventh ranked team, playing in Pool B with No. 2 Swink and No. 11 Simla.
“I was worried about beating Paonia three weeks in a row and we knew nothing about Ridgway, so that scared me,” said Greg Cravens, who took over Meeker’s head coaching position this season.
In his first season as head coach for the Cowboys, his varsity team compiled a 22-3 record, won a district and most recently a regional title.
“Being district champs gave us a boost and winning today proved our hard work is paying off, we just have to keep going at it,” coach Cravens said.
As district champions, Meeker was the host of the Region 8 tournament and played Paonia in the first round, beating them 25-21, 25-18 and 26-24, then beat Ridgeway, also in three games (25-7, 25-18 and 25-22) to win the regional title and advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2013.
Juniors Krissie Luce and Sydnie Main each had 10 kills against Paonia and sophomore Julia Dinwiddie added nine. Dinwiddie and junior Michaela Jones each had four blocks and junior Lila Klinglesmith led the team with 34 digs against the Eagles.
Luce had 14 kills against Ridgeway and her twin sister had 34 assists, while Dinwiddie and her sophomore classmate Caleigh Morlan each had seven kills. Klinglesmith and senior Avery Watt each had 10 serve/receives and Klinglesmith also had 26 digs in the championship match.
“I’m so proud of what our girls did, this is a tough league and region,” coach Cravens, who is excited about qualifying for state, said.
While this will be the first time any of Meeker’s varsity players have played in the Denver Coliseum, which will feature teams in all classifications, it will not be the first team Cravens has coached in the Big Show. Cravens coached Eaton to a state championship team in 1997 and his University High School team was the state runner-up in 2010. Cravens said he has also been “fortunate enough” to be a part of five other teams to play in the state tournament.
Meeker will play Swink in the first round of Pool B at 3:30 Friday, then play Simla Saturday morning with the winner of the pool advancing to the semifinals.
“I love going to the state tournament, it is such a great atmosphere,” coach Cravens said. “CHSAA really does a great job putting all five classifications in one location. It will be nice to have a chance to see how we do against the best competition in the state.”