League title puts Rangely in regionals

RANGELY I Last year, despite finishing second in the league standings and second in the district tournament, the Lady Panther volleyball team didn’t qualify for regionals, based on how other teams finished.
This year, the Lady Panthers are in, no matter what.
Rangely is guaranteed a spot at the regional tournament next weekend at Palisade, based on winning the Western Slope League. The Lady Panthers, 16-1 overall, will host the district tournament this weekend.
“We advance no matter what, because we won the league, so we get an automatic (spot at regionals),” Rangely coach Jimmie Mergelman said.
Rangely has a first-round bye in the district tournament and will play Paonia at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Paonia beat Meeker Tuesday night.
The Lady Panthers concluded the regular season last Friday against West Grand at Kremmling. Rangely won in three games: 25-14, 25-19, 25-16.
“I thought we played well,” Mergelman said. “I think we’re ready to start districts. Hopefully we’ll be peaking at the right time. We’ll see what happens.”
Two teams will advance to regionals out of the Rangely district.
“It’s a round-robin format,” Mergelman said. “Everybody has to play everybody. One other team, besides us, will come out of that (districts to advance to regionals).”
The Lady Panthers haven’t lost since the opening tournament of the season, and that was against a Class 5A school. Rangely is 2A.
“I knew if we played well and things came together there was a good possibility we could win the league,” Mergelman said.
Asked if she planned any changes for the postseason, Mergelman said, “I think we’re going to be keep everything pretty consistent. What we’re doing seems to be working. I hope to keep it that way.”