DENVER — The Fairview volleyball team fully intended to make some noise at the Class 5A state championships at the Denver Coliseum on Friday.
Few expected the Knights' actions to be quite as loud as they were.
In their first match of Pool I play, the Knights toppled top-seeded Chatfield, 26-24, 25-12, 19-25, 25-17. For a team that last year appeared at the state tournament for the first time since 1998, it was quite the way to announce its arrival as a true title contender.
"We really emphasized before the game that we had to come out with confidence," Knights junior setter Audrey Cheng said. "In the first set, we were kind of getting our nerves out. But when we won that set and started getting momentum in the second set, we started to really believe, 'We can beat this team.'"
After winning the first set, the Knights were outright dominant in the second. Though Chatfield (24-3) pulled away late to win the third, the Knights (21-5) did the same thing in the fourth to close out the match. Cheng shined with 46 assists, Caroline Schmiedeler led the team with 18 kills and Meredith Pearl was everywhere up front, totaling 13 blocks.
Despite opening the tournament with the unenviable challenge of taking on the No. 1 seed and last season's state runner-up, the Knights flipped their position and now sit in the driver's seat. Saturday morning, the Knights will play 12th-seeded Coronado (19-7), which lost to Chatfield in five sets Friday morning, for a shot to win the pool and reach the semifinals.
"Winning today's match was a big confidence booster and a big deal for us," Cheng said. "From that match, we learned that if we play up to our potential, we can beat anyone. But we know not to underestimate Coronado either."
Maybe the Knights' middle of the road seed didn't imply an ability to challenge the state's usual suspects for a state title. First-year head coach Kelsey Spencer, however, was clear that the Knights' intentions weren't to make it to the Coliseum and see what happened. They intended all along to win.
"It's been the goal for our program to come here and win state, and we're not going to stop until we do it," Spencer said. "We watched both teams in our pool play this morning and we were ready to shut down their strengths and highlight their weaknesses. We just played with so much heart. It wasn't easy and they fought back in the third set but we stayed on them got it done.
"Last year we came out to state and I was an assistant coach at that time but people were nervous going into it. It just felt different coming out in the first five minutes today."
Pool play will resume at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Semifinals and finals will follow.
Fairview 3, Chatfield 1
At Denver ColiseumFairview (21-5) 26 25 19 25 Chatfield (24-3) 24 12 25 17
Kills — Fairview: Caroline Schmiedeler 18, Haley Kilday 9, Christine Schmiedeler 8, Meredith Pearl 6, Audrey Cheng 4, Sami Young 3.
Blocks — Fairview: Meredith Pearl 13, Christine Schmiedeler 8, Caroline Schmiedeler 6, Sami Young 6, Audrey Cheng 5, Haley Kilday 3.
Assists — Fairview: Audrey Cheng 46.
Aces — Fairview: Caroline Schmiedeler 4, Cree Lawrence, Audrey Cheng.
Digs — Fairview: Cree Lawrence 18, Christine Schmiedeler 15, Audrey Cheng 12, Caroline Schmiedeler 9, Haley Kilday 6.