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Ignacio punches ticket to 2A state championships

Ignacio outlasts Vail Christian in regional final
Ignacio's Solymar Cosio (20) smacks a shot over the block of Vail Christian's Grace Armstrong (8) during the Class 2A-Region IX tournament's first-place match Saturday in Edwards. (Courtesy of Joel Priest)

EAGLE COUNTY – Both Ignacio and 2A-Region IX Championships host Vail Christian entered their showdown Saturday afternoon fatigued but fully focused on earning a spot in the 2023 CHSAA State Volleyball Championships.

Ignacio came out on top, beating Vail Christian in five sets. Ignacio improved to 19-6, while Vail Christian fell to 18-5.

“We just never gave up; we believed in each and every one of us until the end,” Ignacio senior middle hitter Solymar Cosio said. “We were down 17 to 8 and we lost that (fourth) set but we still came back to win. We lost to Vail (Christian) last year, and we were coming for redemption – playing to win and not playing not to lose.”

Bobcats senior Kacey Brown stepped to the service line upon Coach Alexander Court with the contest tied at two sets apiece.

Starting with a scoring tip shot by Cosio, Brown held serve until the scoreboard showed the ’Cats owning an 8-0 advantage. Vail Christian freshman Stella Hawkins finally got the home team going with a kill, but Ignacio remained in control and grew the lead to 11-3 after kills by senior Maci Barnes and junior Ollyvia Howe, preceded by two serious Barnes digs during a prolonged rally.

Barnes then netted a serve, but Vail Christian freshman Mary McClarrinon re-gifted that point by sending an attack long. Still refusing to admit defeat, McClarrinon smacked a kill off Cosio’s chest – giving Vail Christian one last flash of hope.

Putting a shot down from the far side opposite the scorer’s table, Howe later put a shot down from the far side opposite from the scorer’s table to secure the win for Ignacio.

The Bobcats (19-6) also had a key spark off the bench in the form of freshman opposite hitter Lainee Bradley.

“She came with no fear … like she was ready to play the whole game,” Cosio said of Bradley. “Her kills, her tips and her serves really helped dig us out. That was really inspirational to all of us, to just keep working and be ready.”

WHAT’S NEXT: Reseeded the next day by CHSAA as the supreme 12-team competition’s No. 8 squad, Ignacio will open the 2A State Championships at 8 a.m. Thursday against ninth-seed Meeker (16-9).

“We had going to State in our mind all year, and we never gave up,” Cosio said. “I really think everyone’s stepped up – our bench really kicked some butt and helped us – and we’re ready.”

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