Centauri volleyball qualifies for state

Photo by Ken Hamrick Centauri High School's Abbey Smith goes up for a kill attempt in the Class 3A Region 7 Tournament Friday at the CHS gym. The Lady Falcons defeated Kent Denver and James Irwin to qualify for the state tournament for the first time in 23 years.

LA JARA – The seventh-seeded Centauri High School volleyball team snapped a long state tournament drought on Friday as the Lady Falcons won the Class 3A Region 7 Tournament at the CHS gym.

“We are so excited, we’re ready,” said Centauri coach Ali Miller. “It’s been 23 years since Centauri’s been to state.”

Centauri def. Kent Denver

The Lady Falcons opened the tournament by defeating 30th-seeded Kent Denver in three straight sets.

“These girls came out and they did really well,” Miller said. “They wanted it bad.”

The Lady Sun Devils got off to a good start in the first set by taking a 3-0 lead. They extended the lead to 7-2 before Centauri scored six straight points to go in front at 8-7.

The rest of the set was all Lady Falcons as they went on to win 25-15.

It was the same story in the second set as Kent Denver took an early 4-0 lead. But once again, the momentum shifted Centauri’s way. After they trailed 5-2, the Lady Falcons scored 14 straight points for a 16-5 advantage. They rode that momentum to a 25-9 win to capture the second set.

The Lady Falcons had the strong start in the third set as they scored the first six points. Their lead got extended to 14-3, but the Lady Sun Devils scored five consecutive points to cut the Centauri lead to 14-8.

But once again, the Lady Falcons finished strong as they went on to win the set and match 25-14.

Camryn Wilfong led the Centauri offense with 22 assists. Kailyn Polzin led the hitting game with 14 kills, followed by Austyn Shawcroft and Abbey Smith both with nine.

The Lady Falcons recorded 13 service aces with Smith, Wilfong and Hannah Curtis each with four.

James Irwin def. Kent Denver

The Lady Sun Devils then took on 18th-seeded James Irwin in the second match.

The Lady Jaguars won in three straight sets to end Kent Denver’s season. The scores were 25-13, 25-11 and 25-10.

Centauri def. James Irwin

The Lady Falcons dominated the Lady Jaguars in the first set as Centauri led from start to finish for a 25-13 win.

The second set was a different story as James Irwin took an early lead. The Lady Jaguars had an 8-6 lead before the Lady Falcons pulled away to a 21-13 advantage.

James Irwin attempted a comeback and closed its deficit to 21-18. However, Centauri scored the final four points for s 25-18 win.

The Lady Falcons began the third set with a 3-1 lead. They led 20-15, however, the Lady Jaguars had a 10-3 rally to end the set with a 25-23 win to cut the Centauri lead to two sets to one.

But the Lady Falcons finished off the Lady Jaguars in the fourth set. After trailing 3-1 to open the set, Centauri went on a 21-3 run to take a commanding 22-6 advantage.

The Lady Jaguars attempted one last comeback and closed to within 23-12. But the Lady Falcons scored the final two points to win the set 25-12 and the match three sets to one.

“James Irwin came out and played that third set, and we went out there for that fourth set,” Miller said. “The girls were on fire. They were great.”

Wilfong again led the Centauri offense with 41 assists. Smith led in kills with 22, followed by Polzin with 19. Shawcroft was next with seven.

Smith and Jaelyn Jackson both had three service aces.

Centauri (18-6) will next play at the Class 3A State Tournament, which runs from Nov. 10-12 at the Denver Coliseum. Miller knows that the Lady Falcons will face a tough opponent in their first-round match.

“We’re going to get a tough one, but we’re going to compete,” Miller said. “We’re going to be there.”

The state bracket will be released this week.