BROOMFIELD — The right to host a regional tournament has been priority number one for the Holy Family volleyball team since the preseason.
The Tigers were right to place a premium on home court advantage in the regional round.
Holy Family won the Tri-Valley League title and was named the host team for the 4A Region 4 tournament on Thursday. It was Holy Family's home crowd that helped the Tigers regain their lost momentum in a 25-23, 25-10, 17-25, 26-28, 15-10 victory over 33rd-seed Niwot, which proved to be the keystone match of the tournament.
"Having all of those people and all of those cheers really pushed us over the edge in the fifth game," Tigers junior libero Sam Weber said. "As the crowd got louder, our intensity got higher. It helped keep our energy up which helped pick up our play."
Playing in Class 3A in 2013, Holy Family reached the state semifinals. Finishing with an 8-15 record last year, the Tigers didn't make the postseason in their first year at the Class 4A level.
Having defeated Niwot 3-0 in the final match of its regular season on Oct. 29, fourth-seeded Holy Family (22-3) knew it would be tough to beat the Cougars (11-14) a second time in nine days. In the postseason rematch that opened the Region 4 round robin, Holy Family won the first two games but Niwot bounced back to win the next two, forcing a fifth game with a 28-26 victory in Game 4.
In the pivotal Game 5, Holy Family pulled away from a 10-10 tie to win 15-10 and remain in the driver's seat to reach the state tournament.
"Niwot played hard and we knew that if they played well against us that it was going to be difficult," Holy Family head coach Krista Solomon said. "They definitely gave us a run there. But once we settled in, we performed better."
Niwot went on to upset No. 21 Battle Mountain (14-10) in the second match of the night, 25-20, 25-23, 25-20. That forced Holy Family to beat Battle Mountain in order to avoid a three-way tie, which it did, 25-17, 25-21, 25-5.
Niwot reached the 4A state tournament last season and figured to be one of the top teams in the state again in 2015. Despite their sub-.500 record, head coach Preston Brown was pleased with how the Cougars showed their quality and came within five points of winning the tournament.
"We've said since the beginning of the season that it's not about how we start, it's about how we finish," Brown said. "This was the best ball this team has played all season. We stepped up our game, we tweaked a few things and we found the sweet spot. We played our best two matches of the year and I'm super proud."
The 2015 state tournament for all classifications will take place Nov. 13-14 at the Denver Coliseum.
Holy Family 3, Niwot 2
At Holy Family H.S.Niwot 23 10 25 28 10
Holy Family 25 25 17 26 15
Kills — Niwot: Sarah Falk 12, Megan Degarate 9, Mikayla Houseman 9, Mackenzie Fidelak 8, Ashley Bradbury 8; Holy Family: Kelsie Torczynski 19, Ali Travis 11, Jody Gallagher 9, Sara Berghoff 6.
Blocks — Niwot: Mackenzie Fidelak 4, Zoe Gonzales 3, Mikayla Houseman 2, Ashley Bradbury 2; Holy Family: Jody Gallagher 3, Julia Giltner 2, Sara Berghoff 2.
Assists — Niwot: Mackenzie Fidelak 37; Holy Family: Sophie Mosko 36.
Aces — Niwot: Courtney Smoljan 4, Megan Degarate 2, Ashley Bradbury 2; Holy Family: Ali Travis 9, Sophie Mosko 3.
Digs — Niwot: Megan Degarate 13, Mackenzie Fidelak 12, Courtney Smoljan 10; Holy Family: Samantha Weber 16, Ali Travis 13, Willow Belenski 13, Kelsie Torczynski 12.
Niwot 3, Battle Mountain 0
At Holy Family H.S.Niwot 25 25 25
Battle Mountain 20 23 20
Kills — Niwot: Megan Degarate 14, Sarah Falk 8, Mikayla Houseman 4, Mackenzie Fidelak 2, Ashley Bradbury 2.
Blocks — Niwot: Mackenzie Fidelak 4, Zoe Gonzales 3, Sarah Falk 3, Mikayla Houseman.
Assists — Niwot: Mackenzie Fidelak 27.
Aces — Niwot: Sarah Falk 4, Mikayla Houseman 2, Courtney Smoljan, Ashley Bradbury.
Digs — Niwot: Courtney Smoljan 16, Megan Degarate 12, Ashley Bradbury 10.
Holy Family 3, Battle Mountain 0
At Holy Family H.S.Battle Mountain 17 21 5
Holy Family 25 25 25
Kills — Holy Family: Jody Gallagher 11, Ali Travis 8, Sara Berghoff 8, Kelsie Torczynski 6, Abigail Hodell 4.
Blocks — Holy Family: Jody Gallagher 8, Sara Berghoff 5, Julia Giltner 4.
Assists — Holy Family: Sophie Mosko 23.
Aces — Holy Family: Ali Travis 4, Sam Weber, Sophie Mosko.
Digs — Holy Family: Sam Weber 13, Kelsie Torczynski 10, Ali Travis 8.