by Kyle Koso
When it comes to impressive debuts, the storylines just kept unfolding Saturday at the Avalanche Havoc volleyball event.
The tournament marked the arrival of the Colorado Tournament Series, offered by Triple Crown Sports, which welcomed 40 teams in a mix of age groups and bracketed to create the most useful level of competition for each squad. Matches are being contested at the nearly brand-new 10-court NORCO complex in northeast Loveland, which only just opened in March of 2021.
And certainly, there was plenty of fresh potential within the ClubOne 16-1 team, which entered the day having had just a handful of practices together. But in their first look in uniform, the 16’s looked seasoned and prepared, winning four matches and setting themselves up for a title run when Sunday’s double-elim championships are decided.
ClubOne (based in Platteville, CO) wrapped up Saturday with a 25-18, 25-20 victory over Core Values 17-1, doing a nice job of unsettling the taller Core Value team with excellent serving throughout. Even better for ClubOne, they faced a severe deficit in Set 2, trailing 12-3, before storming back and scoring the last seven points of the set to secure the win.
“I knew we’d pull it together, but we’ve only had four practices, so I told the girls let’s go out and have fun. And that’s what we did,” said 16’s head coach Madison Fisher. “When we got behind, I told them to take a deep breath, let it go because the mistakes are behind us. Let’s just stop their run and have ours instead.”
“Those were mostly our unforced errors; we tried to pick up the communication and believe in each other,” said Maddie Loeffler, 16, who attends Platte Valley High School and had four aces in the final stretch of the Set 2 win. “My serving has been developed by Ryleigh Haynes (head coach at Platte Valley), learning about mental toughness and being able to stay in it.”
ClubOne continued to show a measured mindset by not getting rattled at the length and size of Core Value. A couple of noisy kills by Charlee Russick (standing a modest 5-foot-6) pretty much announced that ClubOne wasn’t going to be bothered by what the tape measure read.
“It can be intimidating, but I work on my vertical and try to look through the block. I do what I can to work around it,” said Russick, 16, who attends Berthoud High School. “I think serving is probably the most important thing we do; if you don’t serve well, how are you going to score the points you need?”
“When I saw their size, I was a little worried, but our team is fast enough,” Fisher added. “We’re also pumped about our serving; we maybe missed five serves, so that means no running (penalty laps) for them.”
The ClubOne 16’s are seeded sixth and will play the Core Value 18-1 team early Sunday in the 12-team Mixed Division Gold bracket. The top four seeds earning first-round byes are Shockwave 17-1, NORCO 17-2, Believe 16’s and Eclipse 18’s. In the Pikes Peak bracket, the top seed is Attitude 16-2 Marc.
The Avalanche Havoc tourney will be followed up in the Colorado Tournament Series by the Jan. 15-16 Mile High Madness, the Feb. 19-21 President’s Day Summit and the April 9-10 Bighorn Bash. Many of these teams are expected to compete as well in Triple Crown’s Rumble in the Rockies, May 6-8, at the sprawling Gaylord Hotel grounds in Aurora.
“The whole goal of the Colorado Tournament Series is to give teams and clubs, who don’t necessarily get heard, an opportunity to have their needs and wants filled,” said TCS event director Sarah Dannettell. “We wanted to give teams a lot of matches; everyone got four matches today, which is unheard of in other tournaments, and they’ll get two more tomorrow.
“It’s great, this early in the season, for teams to try different lineups and get together to understand what kind team they’ll be. We also wanted to provide all caliber of teams a chance to play in a very elite setting. We didn’t cut any corners or do anything we wouldn’t expect to give our high-end clients. That’s one reason why we are having so much success.”