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Paonia volleyball wins four matches; will host regional

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The Paonia High School volleyball team swept through the district playoffs and now comes home for the regionals.

Paonia faced four opponents in two days at Grand Valley High School last weekend and things couldn't have gone any better for the Eagles (21-2), winning each match with clean 3-0 sweeps.

"I was so incredibly proud of all of them," Paonia coach Krista Carsten said in an email after the weekend.

"Different players led the team at different points during the weekend," Carsten said. "Sometimes it was the pin hitters getting the majority of the kills, and other times it was the middles. That's a tribute to the balanced offense of this group of girls."

The Eagles got started off the right way last Friday morning with a 25-14, 25-18, 25-12 win over Rangely.

Senior co-captain McKenna Hartigan led Paonia in almost all statistical categories in the match, recording 11 kills, six aces, eight blocks and 11 digs in the win.

Hartigan had a whopping 70 percent kill efficiency.

Then Paonia beat Plateau Valley 25-18, 25-18, 25-12 in the second match of the day. Brianna Van Vleet led the Eagles with 13 kills in the win and Hartigan had 12. Sophia Anderson had nine kills for the winners.

Hartigan, Van Vleet and senior co-captain Emily Pieper each served three aces. Pieper also recorded 33 assists and 11 digs in the win.

Last Saturday the Eagles beat a strong West Grand squad 25-20, 25-22, 25-20. McKenna Palmer had a team high 11 kills and Van Vleet chipped in with nine kills in the win.

Hartigan had three blocks and Pieper recorded another 25 assists and four aces in the victory.

Paonia wrapped up its perfect performance at districts with a 25-10, 25-19, 27-25 against Meeker. Palmer led the way with 13 kills and 15 digs for the Eagles.

Hartigan swung for 12 kills, Van Vleet banged home 11 more and Pieper posted 35 assists in the win over the Cowboys.

"It was a great weekend overall for us. In three of the four matches we were able to maintain our level of play throughout all three sets," Carsten said. "Usually we struggle to maintain our intensity and focus in the third set, and we actually did a nice job of keeping our play at a high level throughout the entire match during the tournament."

Paonia enters this weekend's regional meet at home as the No. 1 seed. Ridgway is No. 2 and Meeker, the No. 3 seed, will face Paonia for the third weekend. The Paonia-Meeker game is Saturday at 10 a.m., followed by Ridgway-Paonia at 1 p.m.

The state volleyball tournament is Nov. 11-12 at the Denver Coliseum.

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