DENVER — The 4A state tournament pool that featured Niwot and Holy Family really turned itself upside down on Saturday morning at the Denver Coliseum.
In reality, the battle between the Cougars and Raptors was by far the best of the three matches played — a five-set roller coaster that came down to extra points with a berth in the state semifinals on the line.
For the second time in less than three weeks, Holy Family got the better of Niwot — but Saturday's match was almost everything NHS head coach Preston Brown wanted to see in his team.
Just not the end result.
"We demonstrated the kind of mental toughness we really like to see, and I'm proud of the kids for their season and for their effort today," Brown said after the Cougars were outlasted by HFHS 25-19, 25-20, 16-25, 19-25, 16-14. "They brought out the best in us and I hope they can say the same thing.
The matchup presented two strong teams on the blocks, and that certainly played out through the morning. Holy Family collected plenty of them in their two wins, but Niwot's footwork steadily improved in sets 3 and 4 — the Cougars finished with 15 total blocks.
Holy Family appeared in good shape with an 8-1 set 5 lead, but Niwot again was not going to let it be a runaway. Mackenzie Fidelak came alive, and they eventually tied the game up at 14-14. But a hitting attempt and a block attempt gave Holy Family its match-winning points.
"Number 3 (Holy Family's Rachel Siurek) was able to get some big kills on us through the match, and we had some outstanding performances ourselves," Brown said. "They put everything into this season for each other."
Silver Creek followed up with a 3-1 loss against Valor Christian in pool play, but once again the Raptors were strong as a team after the first set. They led late in set 2 — much like Friday against Cheyenne Mountain — but just could not maintain the momentum. Freshman middle Kaitlyn Volkmann led the team with 10 kills.
"There's something special about this team, and we always want to out-do everyone we played. There were times teams were better than us ... today just came down to a few little things," said junior outside hitter Rylee Anderson, who had six kills and eight digs in the match. "Valor never gave up, and they were consistent in everything they did."
Fairview also got back out on the court for a pool tie-breaker against Mountain Vista, but the one-set playoff went in favor of the Golden Eagles, 25-21.
Lyons could not advance after Friday's loss to Colorado Springs School, but they did get revenge on Denver Christian in five sets to finish their slate.
Holy Family 3, Niwot 2
At Denver ColiseumNiwot 19 20 25 25 14 Holy Family 25 25 16 19 16
Kills — Niwot: E. Falk 17, Fidelak 13, S. Falk 7, Gonzales 5, Chavez 1, Richard 1, Shiers 1; Holy Family: Siurek 25, Gallagher 8, Giltner 7, Travis 6, Berghoff 2, Alderfer 1.
Blocks — Niwot: Gonzales 8, Fidelak 5, E. Falk 4, S. Falk 2, Chavez 2; Holy Family: Gallagher 6, Siurek 3, Berghoff 2, Giltner 1, Alderfer 1.
Assists — Niwot: Chavez 45; Holy Family: Berghoff 42, Weber 2, Gallagher 1, Travis 1.
Aces — Niwot: Bradbury 2, Richard 2, Fidelak, S. Falk; Holy Family: Travis 5, Frank 3, Belenski 2.
Digs — Niwot: Chavez 14, Bradbury 14, Fidelak 7, Richard 6, S. Falk 6, Priola 4, E. Falk 2, Shiers 2; Holy Family: Weber 28, Travis 7, Belenski 6, Berghoff 5, Frank 3, Gallagher 2, Alderfer 1, Siurek 1, Lynch 1.
Valor Christian 3, Silver Creek 1
At Denver ColiseumSilver Creek 11 22 26 19 Valor Christian 25 25 24 25
Kills — Silver Creek: Volkmann 10, Adams 7, Anderson 6, Olson 6, Merriman 6, Webster 2.
Blocks — Silver Creek: Volkmann 3, Anderson 3, Adams 2.
Assists — Silver Creek: Webster 30, Adams 1, J. Zens 1.
Aces — Silver Creek: Olson 5, Merriman 2, J. Zens 2, A. Zens 1.
Digs — Silver Creek: Merriman 21, J. Zens 17, Webster 11, Adams 8, Anderson 8, A. Zens 6, Olson 5, Volkmann 3, Strong 2, Stouder 1.