NIWOT — Niwot's Mackenzie Fidelak would not commit to saying Thursday night was her favorite night of the year so far, not with their first Northern League matchup against Silver Creek already in the books, too.
But a sweep of rival Longmont at NHS that keeps the Cougars undefeated in league play sure was pleasant to the junior hitter, especially in light of the way a young group of NHS sophomores made life just so difficult for the Trojans.
The lengthy history between the teams has tipped heavily in the favor of the Trojans since 2007, but that didn't matter much in NHS' 3-0 win (25-20, 25-16, 25-19) that was every bit as dominating as the set scores indicated. With Fidelak's 19 kills leading the way, second-year players Emma Falk, Zoe Gonzales, Audrey Richard and Ashley Bradbury also contributed in a variety of ways for the hosts.
Of course, it helps that four of the Cougars (5-3, 4-0 Northern) are six feet tall or taller.
"I think the fact we have such a tall front row helps so much, and we're still working on a lot of connection pieces but it's such a fun offense to be a part of," said Fidelak, a left-handed hitter who hit from all angles on Thursday. "We're very excited about the sophomores we have. Emma is a monster, and Zoe has gotten so much better."
Gonzales and Emma Falk — the latter whose sister Sarah is a senior — were tremendous at the net in all three sets, and that only added to the frustration for Longmont, a team still dealing with the loss of Olivia Storaci to injury.
Gonzales had five blocks, while Emma Falk also had a block to go along with five kills.
"Niwot played a great game. They really put up a formidable block and executed on offense in many ways better than we did." said Longmont coach Holli Stetson, whose team is still 3-1 in league and 8-1 overall. "That's a frustrating thing for a team to deal with, and they definitely earned this win. Just the execution of the things we know we needed to step up on really wasn't on our side."
"I know that (Storaci) is such a good player and it is really unfortunate that they lost her, but I think they are still such a good team otherwise. But I think we have a lot of potential ourselves and I am excited to see where we can go," Fidelak added.
Longmont, coming off a win at Mountain View on Tuesday, appeared to be in good shape early and led 16-14 late in Set 1. But Niwot reeled off seven straight points and never looked back to hand LHS its first set loss of the year.
Set 2 was back-and-forth until midway through when the Trojans suffered yet another potentially devastating injury. Senior Trista Woelfle — a 6-foot-2 middle — dislocated her shoulder on a swing with the score 18-14 Niwot and the Trojans simply were not the same after that.
The raucous Niwot crowd helped the home team retain a high level out on the court, something the Cougars hope an carry even into the rematch at LHS on Oct. 11.
"The Longmont games are always so much fun because both student sections bring their all and everyone is so pumped up," Sarah Falk said. "We were fired up before this one, and even though we started a little slow we fought back hard. It feels good to still be undefeated (in league)."
Niwot 3, Longmont 0
At Niwot HSLongmont (8-1, 3-1) 20 16 19 Niwot (5-3, 4-0) 25 25 25
Kills — Longmont: Shiloh Berger 7, Rachel Kusbel 7; Niwot: Mackenzie Fidelak 19, Sarah Falk 8, Emma Falk 5.
Blocks — Longmont: Several with one apiece; Niwot: Zoe Gonzales 5.
Assists — Longmont: Annika Wetterstrom 16; Niwot: Brynn Chavez 33.
Aces — Longmont: Jensen Walker 2, Kusbel 2; Niwot: Courtney Smoljan 3, Chavez 3.
Digs — Longmont: Kusbel 11, Walker 9; Niwot: Fidelak 13, Ashley Bradbury 13, Audrey Richard 9.