Colorado Volleyball Association 17 Black gets loose, doesn't lose as Colorado Challenge event kicks off
by Kyle Koso
If the Colorado Volleyball Association 17 Black team had a panic gene, there were plenty of moments the group might have wobbled in the face of competition Saturday at the Triple Crown Colorado Challenge.
But it looks like the CVA squad is more likely hard-wired for success.
CVA capped a 3-0 start in pool play at the NORCO facility with a hard-earned 27-25, 25-20 victory over River City (Neb.), ultimately unleashing its physical strengths and hustle enough to fight off a very determined opponent. River City, which originally planned on playing in the Club Division before agreeing to move up, held leads of 11-4 and 24-22 in Set 1.
CVA (based in Englewood, Colo.) stayed in range as its rangy group athletes applied pressure, especially at the net. Kai Kofoed-Cooke had three critical kills late in the set, which was capped off by an ace from Josephine Abeyta. With the victory, CVA joined Front Range Black and Idaho Crush as the only teams at 17 Elite to go through Saturday unscathed.
“I had faith in my team and just tried to build them up, which they were doing for me. It was nice to see everyone supporting each other,” said Addison Humphrey (Castle View HS), who had a series of kills in Set 1 that helped with the comeback and was part of the block with Cooke that closed the match. “I’m excited to see the competition (Sunday) and I think can reach the level of the Power Pool teams. I do love our athletic potential, and it’s maybe the best part of our team. It took a while because we were just off, but it’s not an excuse because we should be that way all the time.”
CVA made it a bit easier for itself in Set 2, taking a 13-9 lead, but River City got it back to 19-19 with impressive plays galore, often finding just the right spot to direct an easy push of the ball. An improvised backward tip shot by Reese Brgoch (Lutheran HS) gave CVA a 20-19 lead and an ace from Cooke (Chaparral HS) set up the concluding point.
“We got better at focusing on the things that needed to get done. At first, we were overdoing it and got super tense, but once we took a deep breath we came back and played out game,” Cooke said. “We had fun together and had high energy and high communication. I’m at a new club now, ready for improvement, and hopefully on the way to getting way stronger. Going into this we had a feeling we’d do well; at the end of it, how we played and the fun we had together, it makes up super close.”
CVA head coach Shawn Copple said this year’s team has seven returners and four newcomers, with Cooke adding a degree of muscle and terminal hitting that can elevate the profile and potential of the squad.
“We’ve been working hard with all of them on taking big swings and not worrying about the consequences, and early on we gave up some points with that. River City did a very good job defensively, but when some of those swings went in, we made out way,” he said. “The middles did a really good job, too. We didn’t have our best today, and honestly played a lot better last weekend. But to battle like we did today and not give up or get chippy with each other, that will go a long ways.
“I give a lot of credit to the group from last year; the product they put on makes other kids want to come over. Kai saw that, wants to be a part of it, and we have an actual hammer to go with the other outsides, who hit it great along with our middles.”
14 ELITE — Also out of the morning wave, the 14 Elite had a handful of teams go 3-0 on Saturday: Club V, Colorado Juniors-Sarah, Elevation Peak, Kairos and NORCO Black.
13 ELITE — This group of unbeaten groups includes two teams from Colorado Juniors (Mal and Tammy), along with River City Navy.