LOVELAND — The Fairview and Fossil Ridge volleyball teams each have just one conference loss but one of those losses looms much larger than the other.
In the team's only meeting of the season on Oct. 10, Fairview swept Fossil Ridge, gaining a head-to-head advantage on the team that is currently ranked No. 3 in the CHSAANow.com poll. On Wednesday night, the Knights beat the Loveland Indians, 25-17, 20-25, 25-20, 25-14, improving Fairview's league record to an 10-1 mark that matches Fossil Ridge's and putting the Knights in the driver's seat to win the Front Range League title with one match to play.
Itself a contest of playoff seeding significance, Thursday's match was a battle of top-10 Class 5A teams, with Fairview ranked No. 9 and Loveland ranked No. 10.
It has been a big week and a half for Fairview volleyball.
"We love to play really strong teams because we can really show what we've got," Knights senior Caroline Schmiedeler said. "Everyone on our team showed up for the Fossil Ridge game and it has been fun to see our team really come together in the last couple weeks. Especially coming into this last match against Loveland, everyone was on the same page and we're really finishing strong."
Thursday's first set was tied 7-7 before the Knights (14-4, 10-1 Front Range) won four straight and pulled away gradually to lead 17-12. Once they gained the upper hand, the Knights never led by fewer than five on their way to an eventual eight-point win.
In the second set, the Knights trailed for the first 33 points and by as many as six before playing their way back into a 17-17 tie. Loveland (15-3, 8-3), however, was able to find the late advantage and tie the match at 1-1. In the third set, the Knights took the lead right away and only allowed a single tie on their way to winning despite the Indians making a late run and pulling within two at 21-19.
"We've just been getting better and better at the end of the season," Fairview head coach Kelsey Spencer said. "We have been playing well and tonight we reacted well when they started doing things that were working well against us. Loveland is a really good team but we had a lot of people step up and when we did get down in that second set, we still felt like we were going to win because of our leadership."
The decisive fourth set went to Fairview from the start, with the Knights once again grabbing the lead early finishing off the match with a double-digit win. Behind 44 assists from senior setter Audrey Cheng, the Knights finished with five players with five or more kills.
The Knights will wrap up the regular season at home against Greeley West (6-15, 2-9) on Tuesday.
Fairview 3, Loveland 1
At Loveland H.S.Fairview (14-4, 10-1) 25 20 25 25
Loveland (15-3, 8-3) 17 25 20 14
Kills — Fairview: Kilday 13; Loveland: Jacobson 13 kills.
Blocks — Fairview: Lai 5; Loveland: Hillyard 2.
Assists — Fairview: Cheng 44; Loveland: Roybal 19.
Aces — Fairview: Pearl 4; Loveland: Roybal 3.
Digs — Fairview: Pearl 19; Loveland: Kelley 22.