The core of the Fairview volleyball team is the Knights' 11 seniors and their experience of winning the Front Range League and making the Class 5A 2015 state championship match.
Without question, that confidence is playing out now after a surprisingly slow start to the 2016 slate.
Fairview senior hitter Haley Kilday may have equally been shocked at how the Knights came out of the gates, but after a 3-0 home sweep of Fort Collins on Thursday night, she could not help but express just how dangerous her team appears right now.
The 25-22, 25-22, 25-16 win over the Lambkins moved Fairview to 6-0 in league play — and that includes six consecutive sweeps. This comes after starting the season just 3-3 overall.
"I was a bit surprised at how we started this season because I think we could have been much better, but I think we've picked it up so much," Kilday said after leading the team with 12 kills. "At practices we've really picked up our speed, and we've worked on our offense a lot and defense as well. We've gotten stronger physically and are running our drills in a more serious manner."
Mixed in with the rough start was the fact that setter Audrey Cheng missed some time with a sprained ankle, and the Knights did have to play around with some lineups, using libero Lauren Chase and sophomore Sophie Pearson in that role.
Head coach Kelsey Spencer still demanded the same high intensity, knowing her team would be better for it in the long run.
"We're a mature team this season," Spencer said. "I think we've hit our stride and we're figuring out our systems and our ideal lineup. We tried a couple of different combinations while Audrey was out and they were always ready to go when they needed to be. But I think we're at a good place in the season."
Fairview's we'll-get-them-in-the-end demeanor played out well Thursday as Fort Collins jumped out 8-3 and 13-9 before FHS gathered its bearings. An ace and five kills closed out the initial set.
Fort Collins (7-4 overall, 4-2 FRL) rallied to make set 2 interesting by cutting an 18-9 FHS lead down to 18-17, but again Fairview stayed the course and scored six of the next seven points. Set 3 was never close after an eight-point run for the hosts early on.
Thursday's match was well balanced offensively with some superb late production from junior Ava Lai (seven kills). In addition to Kilday's 12, Caroline Schmiedeler produced 11 kills and Christine Schmiedeler added seven. Cheng had 35 assists.
"(Lai) likes to run her offense; she jumps high and hits hard and likes to kill it," Kilday said.
"This was the first team we've played with a really fast offense and a super strong middle, so it was fun to see us step up to the challenge of shutting that down," Spencer added. "We just needed to take care of our side and stay confident."
Fairview 3, Fort Collins 0
At Fairview HSFort Collins (7-4, 4-2) 22 22 16
Kills — Fairview: Haley Kilday 12, Caroline Schmiedeler 11, Christine Schmiedeler 7, Ava Lai 7.
Blocks — Fairview: Meredith Pearl 1, Ch. Schmiedeler 1.
Assists — Fairview: Audrey Cheng 35.
Aces — Fairview: Izze Uvalle 1, Ch. Schmiedeler 1.
Digs — Fairview: Ca. Schmiedeler 12, Uvalle 10, Lauren Chase 7.