Bayfield serving up extremes

First up, Monte Vista, then it’s the stately Palmer Ridge Invitational

From bottom to top, one extreme to the next, Kirstie Hillyer and the No. 3-ranked Bayfield Wolverines will wrap their conference season at home tonight against 1-16 Monte Vista, then will try their serve at the regular-season ending Palmer Ridge Invitational against Class 4A and 5A ilk. Enlarge photo

Shaun Stanley/Durango Herald file photo

From bottom to top, one extreme to the next, Kirstie Hillyer and the No. 3-ranked Bayfield Wolverines will wrap their conference season at home tonight against 1-16 Monte Vista, then will try their serve at the regular-season ending Palmer Ridge Invitational against Class 4A and 5A ilk.

The Bayfield High School volleyball team is going to extremes this week – by design.

After wrapping up regular-season play in the Class 3A Intermountain League tonight when they host Monte Vista, the Wolverines will step up with a weekend date at the Palmer Ridge Invitational in Monument near Colorado Springs.

“We definitely can’t overlook Monte Vista,” BHS head coach Kelley Rifilato said of the parent night/senior night match against the Pirates. “Monte Vista went five (games) at Centauri. You know they are improved.”

Rifilato said even when the No. 3-ranked Wolverines played Monte Vista last month, they saw significant improvement.

“The defensive skills have gotten so much better,” she said of the 1-16 Pirates.

The Wolverines (16-2) are ranked third in the state in Class 3A this week by both coloradopreps.com and The Denver Post.

Rifilato said Bayfield added the Palmer Ridge Invitational at the close of the regular season to give the Wolverines a taste of tougher competition in a crowded, tournament format.

“Last year, it was hard when we got to state, and we were playing back-to-back matches,” the BHS coach said of the 2011 Wolverines. Their first loss of the season came at the state tournament after breezing through district and regional qualifying as well as the IML.

“This tournament is timed well,” she said.

And the competition is significant: Class 5A and Class 4A teams as well as Class 3A power Greeley University (ranked No. 5 by the Post) and the third-ranked team in Class 5A, Highlands Ranch.

“The tournament will help get us in ... tournament playing shape. The playing shape thing is our biggest thing (at Palmer Ridge),” said Rifilato, excited about playing up in division.

The Wolverines will play Highlands Ranch, Class 4A Silver Creek of Longmont and Greeley University, a regular at the 3A state tournament in recent years.

“This format is tougher than state, but I’m really looking forward to it,” Rifilato said.

The Wolverines are undefeated against Colorado teams this season. Their only two losses came against New Mexico Class 4A Piedra Vista (15-1).

“Our kids need that push. I’m thankful we’re there,” Rifilato said of the day-long tournament.

But first: home, against Monte Vista.

dstrode@durangoherald.com

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