LONGMONT — Just a sophomore, Longmont's Caroline Demosthenes is fairly new to the Trojans rivalry with Silver Creek in volleyball.
But, it's only taken a couple of meetings for her to figure out that, as much as every Northern League match is important, beating the Raptors requires taking out a lot of the emotions of the situation and just playing the game perhaps more than any other matchup.
It's tough when familiar faces, even friends, loom on the other side. That's when the leadership of her senior teammates factored in on Tuesday night in the second meeting of the season.
Demosthenes appeared ever calm, and definitely clever, and her presence was felt strongly in a 3-0 sweep of Silver Creek at SCHS. Longmont won its eighth straight match with the 25-15, 25-22, 25-23 victory and improved to 17-2 on the season.
With Class 4A's current kills leader Rachel Kusbel supplying a hearty 18 kills, Demosthenes added 11 kills to lead a solid secondary crew on the attack across the entire net. Appropriately with her big night, Demosthenes ended the night with a bang once Silver Creek had brought a big rally — really its only huge rally — to the third set.
"I'm super excited with how we're playing right now, just coming together and playing with passion and working hard to execute every ball," Demosthenes said. "Our senior leadership has been amazing and they and our coaches have just been great at keeping us looking forward and not on the past. It's all about giving yourself opportunities to get every point or to gain the serve.
"Wins like this definitely are the best."
Both teams were winding down Northern League play on Tuesday, and for Longmont (12-2 league record) there was the chance to hang in the race for the league title right behind idle Niwot (12-1).
The Trojans didn't really mess around. Silver Creek led 13-11 in set one before Longmont reeled off a sequence of 14-of-16 points, using in part eight kills and three aces to do so, and in set two the Trojans blasted 16 kills including closing the game with seven of their nine points coming on successful swings.
Longmont continued to roll on the attack though the first half of set three with nine kills of their first 12 points, and although the Raptors were able to come up with their biggest string of points to cut a 21-10 LHS lead all the way down to 24-23 at one point, the Trojans were able to win one final rally with a Demosthenes kill into the corner of the court.
Most of the longer rallies seemed to go Longmont's way, and the Trojans were aided by Autumn Drees's eight kills, Kaitlyn Bridge's six kills and 43 set assists from Annika Wetterstrom.
"I felt I just needed to work on my hitting and my placement," Demosthenes said. "We needed to pick apart their defense in order to get runs on them and keep our momentum."
"We used all our weapons and the girls came to play. I thought Caroline came up big, and she's just a great jumper with a really good swing," Longmont head coach Holli Stetson said. "She did some damage tonight. It's hard to put all your resources (against) one girl with this team."
Silver Creek showed much better late after the slow start, but the Raptors dropped to 5-9 in league play and 8-11 overall. Rylee Anderson, another of the classification's top kills leaders, had 15 kills to tie for the team lead with Caitlin Volkmann.
The kind of rally the Raptors posted late was indicative of a team that is hanging on by a string to a regional berth, currently sitting at No. 36 in the 4A ratings percentage index used to determine playoff teams.
The Raptors play at the Palmer Ridge tournament to close out the regular season.
"We have the tendency to start out slow, and it's just kind of been that way all season long. After losing 11 seniors, this has just been one giant learning curve for them and me," Silver Creek coach Tatum McKenzie said, her team's effort aided by Olivia Nelson's 38 assists and 15 digs. "We've come together well, and we fought and had a memorable night for our seniors.
"We have the talent, and it's just bringing the talent together. We're looking to have a good tournament and we just hope that regionals are in the cards."
Longmont 3, Silver Creek 0
At Silver Creek HSLongmont (17-2, 12-2)252525
Silver Creek (8-11, 5-9)152223
Kills — Longmont: Rachel Kusbel 18, Caroline Demosthenes 11, Autumn Drees 8, Kaitlyn Bridge 6; Silver Creek: Rylee Anderson 15, Caitlin Volkmann 15, Katie James 4.
Blocks — Longmont: Bridge 1; Silver Creek: Emi Workman 1, Jayla Harding 1.
Assists — Longmont: Annika Wetterstrom 43; Silver Creek: Olivia Nelson 38.
Aces — Longmont: Several with two apiece; Silver Creek: None.
Digs — Longmont: Ellen Goodwin 18, Mikayla Snyder 11, Wetterstrom 9, Kusbel 7; Silver Creek: Nelson 15, Anderson 13, Harding 12.