LAFAYETTE — In the grand scheme of things, Peak to Peak's 3-1 loss to Kent Denver on Tuesday night might very well be a blessing in disguise.
The Pumas had a chance to move up in the Metro League standings with a quality win and head into the league tournament with a head of steam. Instead, they drop to the No. 6 seed — and here's that aforementioned blessing — avoid league champs Faith Christian until a possible semifinal crossover.
"We have the talent to beat a lot of teams and Faith is very talented and easily the top team in the league," first-year Pumas coach Chris Cranor said. "I think we have the talent to be second in the league, but mentally they have to play volleyball and not overthink everything."
Peak to Peak (12-6 overall, 4-5 in the Metro) did what it does best in the first game against Kent Denver. They played outstanding defense, making the much bigger Sun Devils work for every point. Sophomore libero Arianna Greenspan and Haley Frederking seemed to get to every ball that Kent's lanky outside hitters — Andrea Qualman, Nicole Frederick and Chloe Richards — got a swing on.
"A lot of times its completely different and we drop the first set, and then come back in three," said Frederking, who filled up the stat sheet on Tuesday night, notably with eight aces.
Up 16-12 in the first, the Pumas, behind Frederking's serving closed out the first set with nine straight points and had the opposition wondering what they had walked in to.
"I felt like we played really hard the rest of the way, it just wasn't our day," Frederking said.
Kent Denver (15-4, 6-3) didn't necessarily run away and hide from the Pumas, they just built a two or three point advantage and made Peak to Peak have to dig out of a hole for the rest of the set. In fact the second set was 20-20, but after Kent coach Emily Danitz called a time-out, the Sun Devils closed out the set on a 5-2 run.
Peak to Peak dropped the third set 25-21 and then went down quickly 8-1 in the fourth set. Cranor call both his allotted timeouts early in the game and it paid off. The Pumas briefly found that first game magic and rallied to take a 19-16 lead and it looked as though they might force a fifth game.
"They got a little bit back on their heels instead of staying aggressive and they thought that since they were in the lead (after one) that they could ratchet it back a little bit," Cranor said. "I'm trying to get them to change their mindset and stay even more aggressive and take some of those healthy risks."
What the Pumas lack in size, they more than make up for in talent, including Frederking, setter Kailee Yano and senior outside hitter Rachel Stout.
"We were really pumped up heading into the game and we still really want to go far," Frederking said. "I think we are ready. We're are motivated at practice to make it harded on ourselves and we believe we can fight til the end."
KENT DENVER 3, PEAK TO PEAK 1
At Peak to PeakKent Denver (14-4, 6-3) 12 25 25 25 Peak to Peak (12-6, 4-5) 25 22 21 20
Kills — Peak to Peak: Rachel Stout 15, Haley Frederking 11.
Digs —Peak to Peak: Frederking 13, Arianna Greenspan 11.
Blocks — Peak to Peak: Tyler Feddema 6, Frederking 2.
Assists — Peak to Peak: Kailee Yano 35.
Aces — Peak to Peak: Frederking 8.