LONGMONT — The surprise team at last year's Class 4A state tournament, the Silver Creek volleyball team got hot at the right time and found its way to the Denver Coliseum despite having a sub-.500 record.
It's obviously not often that a team is still standing among the state's final 12 remaining teams without winning even half of its games. The Raptors made it happen in 2015 and it was an incredible ride.
Kicking off the season at home on Thursday night, the Raptors began what they hope will be a more consistently successful run with a 25-16, 25-11, 25-23 win over Skyline.
"Last year we went to state and, I don't want to say we were lucky, but we had to work really hard," Raptors senior setter McKenna Webster said. "If you would have looked at the standings, we were not supposed to be there. It was just hard work at the end. This year, we want to be one of those teams that they predict to go to state."
Webster, who is committed to the University of Louisiana at Monroe, is one of 11 seniors on the Silver Creek roster who are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle before the final week of the season.
After the first set was tied four times in the early going, Silver Creek pulled away to win by nine. With senior libero Jenika Zens serving, Silver Creek scored eight in a row to go up 13-7 and kept the pressure on to win by 14 in the second set.
The Falcons made a push to stay alive early in the third set, jumping out to a 5-2 lead and held the advantage as late in the set as 12-11. As Silver Creek began to regain the upper hand, the Raptors broke an 18-18 tie with a 6-0 run to set up match point. The Falcons fended off game point five times before the Raptors were finally able to clinch the match.
"Skyline is scrappy, they played hard," first-year Raptors coach Tatum McKenzie said. "They played well. We also played well, Riley (Anderson) had lots of kills and we blocked well in the back row. It was a strong start."
For the Falcons, who have won no more than six matches in a season since going 23-5 in 2010, the loss wasn't all that bad of a way to open the season.
"We have some pieces and there were moments when we looked great," Falcons coach Will Rosum said. "There were other moments when we looked young."
The Raptors will play at Northridge on Tuesday to open their Northern League schedule. Also on Tuesday, the Falcons will kick off Tri-Valley League play against Frederick (0-1).
Silver Creek 3, Skyline 0
At Silver CreekSkyline (0-1) 16 11 23 Silver Creek (1-0) 25 25 25
Kills — Skyline: Montes 2, Stoops 2, Koenigseker 2, Dunder 2; Silver Creek: Anderson 16, Olson 7, Merriman 6, Schindler 4, Webster.
Blocks — Skyline: Koenigseker, Dunder; Silver Creek: Olson 5, Schindler 2, Merriman, Webster, Adams, Zens.
Assists — Silver Creek: Webster 24, Stouder 2, Schindler.
Aces — Skyline: Montes 2, Stoops, Rose, Brenneman; Silver Creek: Anderson 2, Merriman 2, Adams 2, Olson 2, Zens, Webster.
Digs — Skyline: Brenneman 16, Koenigseker 9, Rose 7, Montes 6, Stoops 5; Silver Creek: J. Zens 8, A. Zens 6, Merriman 5, Stouder 3, Anderson, Olson, Schindler.