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Update: Underdog Dove Creek drops tight match to Haxtun in state volleyball tourney

Dove Creek junior Trista Barnett skies to spike against Idalia on Day 2 of the CHSAA State Championships, Friday, Nov. 12, inside The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs. (Joel Priest/Special to The Journal)
Bulldogs end season after falling to top-ranked teams in 1A bracket

Proving that they belong among the state's elite, Dove Creek made their first trip to the 1A State volleyball tournament since 2018 one to remember. After surviving the first two days, topping Eastern Plains powers Cheraw, Idalia, and Wiley in the process, the Bulldogs finally ran out of magic on championship Saturday, falling to No. 3 Haxtun in straight sets to bring their tournament run to a close.

Head coach Lacey Murphy's squad didn't go down without a fight, though, against one of the top programs in the classification. Dove Creek battled Haxtun (24-4) closely in all three sets, but didn’t tip the scales in their favor, falling 25-22, 25-17, 27-25.

The Bulldogs wrap up their campaign with a record of 24-6, and will send off a group of three seniors that have compiled one of the winningest stretches of volleyball in both program and classification history, having posted a 77-16 record over the past four years.

Dove Creek senior libero Jessica Ayers comes up with a dig against Briggsdale during Day 1 action at the CHSAA State Championships on Thursday, Nov. 11 at The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs. (Joel Priest/Special to The Journal)

Haxtun advances to take on the defending 1A state champion, Merino, in the state semifinal, while top seed Briggsdale meets No. 2 Fleming in the other semifinal. The winners will meet in the title match on Saturday night at 6 p.m. on the Broadmoor World Arena floor.

The Bulldogs came to make some noise in the state tournament. In the early hours of day one of the 1A state volleyball tournament, Dove Creek (22-5) rattled the Broadmoor World Arena with the first upset of the day, knocking off Cheraw, 3-2, to move on to the second round.

In their second round match with top-seeded Briggsdale (23-3), however, Dove Creek couldn’t duplicate the magic and fell to the Falcons 3-0. The loss will send the ninth-seeded Bulldogs into the elimination bracket, which will begin with a match against Idalia (17-6) on Friday, Nov. 12, at 9:30 a.m.

On Friday, the Bulldogs began play in the elimination bracket with a victory over Idalia, 25-19, 25-18, 19-25, 27-25, to stay alive in the 1A State volleyball tournament.

The Bulldogs moved on to take on No. 5 Wiley in the next round, in a match that is slated for 5 p.m. Friday. Wiley (22-3) knocked off Belleview Christian in their elimination contest, 3-0, to set up their meeting with Dove Creek.

On Friday night against Wiley, Dove Creek battled back after losing the first set, and in a back-and-forth contest, won the tiebreaking fifth set to advance again. The final score was 18-25, 25-17, 25-23, 16-25, 18-16.

At 8 a.m. Saturday, No. 9 Dove Creek will face No. 3 Haxtun in the championship rounds.

Dove Creek sophomore Kylie Gatlin (23) and junior Trista Barnett (11) make Cheraw High School pay for an over-pass during Day 1 action at the CHSAA State Championships on Thursday, Nov. 11, at The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs. (Joel Priest/Special to The Journal)

Head coach Lacey Murphy and her ’Dogs made a bevy of adjustments in a rematch Thursday against the Cheraw Bears, the team that had ousted them in the regional final just a few days before.

After losing a tight opening game 21-25, the Bulldogs fought back and worked overtime to settle the score with a 27-25 win in Game 2.

Cheraw rebounded in Game 3 with a 25-19 win, but the Bulldogs again clawed back into contention with a 25-20 win in Game 4.

Dove Creek put the hammer down in Game 5, winning the tie breaking game 15-13 to advance to the second round of the state tournament.

The win over Cheraw was the first state tournament victory for the Bulldogs since they made the state semifinals in 2013.

Briggsdale, meanwhile, proved too formidable in Round 2, coming into their first match of the day after earning a bye. The Falcons jumped out with a 25-15 win in Game 1 didn't look back, taking the second 25-19, before closing out the ’Dogs with a 25-16 final set.