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Dolores volleyball represents at all-state match

Dolores Volleyball product Erin Brown (1) forces a kill through the block of Merino's Taysa Conger (5) during the 2022 CHSCA All-State Games' first-place volleyball match Saturday, June 11, in Pueblo. Brown and team White would defeat Conger and team Blue 3 games to 1. (Joel Priest/Special to The Journal)
Brown, Hollen lead winning White team in Pueblo

PUEBLO – Served the first ball of the championship match Saturday morning, Dolores’ Erin Brown ultimately put down the decisive two as she closed out her high school volleyball career playing for the victors at the 2022 Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State Games.

After a Brown kill down the near sideline brought up match point, 24-17, in the best-of-five’s fourth game, opponent Taysa Conger (Class 1A Merino) briefly kept the Blue team alive with a scoring shot, but Brown then downed another ball past Rachael White (2A Wiggins) and Emily Flanscha (2A Fowler) to lock up for White a 25-13, 25-13, 17-25, 25-18 triumph on the main court inside CSU-Pueblo’s Massari Arena.

“These people are all so good – a lot of them are going to go play college volleyball – and it’s fun to play like this,” said Brown, who was coached at the Games by 3A Englewood Kent Denver’s Emily Danitz plus 2A DHS’ own Gina Hollen. “It’s such high-level volleyball; I just feel really lucky to be here … to have fun and just enjoy the moment.”

Joel Priest/Special to The JournalDolores Volleyball head coach Gina Hollen and Englewood Kent Denver's Emily Danitz (rear) guided the 2022 CHSCA All-State Games' winning White team, June 10-11 in Pueblo.
Dolores Volleyball product Erin Brown (1) blocks against Monument Palmer Ridge's Maddie Wilson (10) during the 2022 CHSCA All-State Games' first-place volleyball match Saturday, June 11, in Pueblo. Brown and team White would defeat Wilson and team Blue 3 games to 1. (Joel Priest/Special to The Journal)
Dolores Volleyball product Erin Brown (1) stands between mother Teresa Brown-Sanchez (left) and Niwot's Morgan Daugherty (2) while listening to player/parent introductions prior to the 2022 CHSCA All-State Games' first- and third-place matches Saturday, June 11, in Pueblo. Brown, Daugherty, and the White team would win the championship over Blue, 3 games to 1. (Joel Priest/Special to The Journal)

“It’s emotional,” Hollen said. “I mean, she came to me as a freshman and to be able to finish this out with her. … Like, this is not something everybody gets to share or see, so it’s extra meaningful to me.”

“I didn’t know Gina before this, so it was really fun to just be able to work with someone different, learn from someone different,” said Danitz. “And just being in this atmosphere with coaches from all over the state – I didn’t know any of them before this – was awesome.”

Having defeated Red in the previous afternoon’s semifinals, White came out of the gate slowly against Blue and trailed 4-0 early in Game 1. But after tying at 8-8, White had little difficulty pulling away and authoritatively securing not only Game 1 but also Game 2, threatening to bring about a quick end to the action.

But Blue nearly bounced back, taking a 6-3 lead early in Game 3 before Brown bashed a cross-court kill. She’d further cut Blue’s advantage down to 7-6 with an ace through the top of the net, then a block on Morgan McReynolds-Leake (1A Cheraw), but Blue – coached by 1A Fleming’s Megan Chintala and 1A La Veta’s Amber Huff – somehow discovered enough energy to go on a momentum-swiping 5-0 run, pressing White’s coaches into taking a timeout.

“In the first two games we were controlling the serve, which was really important,” said Danitz. “And I think that’s what happened in the third; our serving kind of backed off a little, which was why we struggled. But they found it again in Set Four; we were really controlling the serve-pass game.”

“We kind of changed the rotation a little bit, but they knew what they needed to do,” Hollen said. “We told them to refresh, refocus … try not to make as many mistakes, and they did that.”

“I was a little nervous coming in, just because they’d all played as All-Staters before and I hadn’t,” said Brown, alluding to the fact that, due to injury, she’d been bench-bound at the Colorado Coaches of Girls’ Sports All-State Games up in Fort Collins back in November.

“Last time I was, like, super-energetic; it was more fun to (actually) play … to see Hollen coach at that higher level, and have Emily alongside us. And two of my future (Colorado Mesa University) teammates were here – I got to … actually meet them for the first time just this weekend! So it was cool; I’m so excited to get to play with them every day … and I’ll keep pushing hard so I can have more moments like these.”

“I’m a big cheerleader of, and a fan of really good volleyball, so … just being around this level of volleyball, it’s going to be fun to bring that back to my program and say, ‘Look what we could do,’” Danitz said. “I didn’t have an athlete herethis year – but this gives me a firsthand account to tell them, like, ‘This should be something that you’re striving toward.’”

Minus 3A Intermountain Leaguers Avery Wright (Montezuma-Cortez) and Annie Fusco (Bayfield), neither of whom made the trip, Black fell 18-25, 22-25, 21-25 to Red in the third-place match, contested simultaneously – but on the adjacent, alternate court – with the grand finale.