BOULDER — The Boulder and Broomfield volleyball teams were in very similar situations prior to their match on Tuesday night — the Front Range finale for both squads.
Sitting at No. 35 and No. 37, respectively in the ratings percentage index that determines playoff teams for regional tournaments next week, a win for either one was going to boost their chances of making the 36-team cut while a loss simply blew up the bubble just a little bit bigger.
There's still a lot of volleyball left in the final week, with some big-time tournaments on the docket that can still have an effect on the RPI of those already-finished teams, but on Tuesday it was the visiting Eagles that solidified their standing if only by a small amount, beating the Panthers 3-1 in the match.
Senior Nicole Gonzales led the Eagles with 14 kills, junior middle Lesley Munson added nine kills and sophomores Vicki Fankell and Hope Hanak-Harper combined for 19 more to give Broomfield (7-12, 6-6 Front Range League) a healthy boost heading into a tournament at 4A stalwart Palmer Ridge this weekend.
"We got on a bit of a losing streak after losing some players, but we really came together as a team tonight and that was really great to watch," said Gonzales, who added four aces against the Panthers (11-12, 4-8 FRL). "We're so close (to the playoffs). I think if we play like we did tonight, we will be able to turn some heads this weekend."
Broomfield was playing without injured seniors Abby Major, Shaela Burkert and Heidi DeBuhr, and the Eagles entered Tuesday having lost four straight matches. However, with Munson jump-starting the attack in set one Broomfield managed to take the first pair of games rather easily — though set two required a 10-point run with the score just 14-13 Eagles.
Boulder, having alternated wins and losses ever since September 18 (5-5 record), came back strong in set three behind a balanced attack, but the Panthers suffered a let-down midway through set four as Gonzales really got hot.
"We've had some ups and downs for sure, but we're just trying to take giant steps forward again," Broomfield head coach Lysa Johnson said. "You hope after this one that you're in a different (RPI) position, and we still have four more matches."
The Eagles were aided by 13 service aces overall, six of those coming from sophomore setter Kristina Consbruck. She also had 36 assists.
It was senior night for Boulder, and the Panthers were led by Hannah Bagley (eight kills, 18 digs) and Nicole Williams (six kills, five blocks). Boulder head coach Kyla Rhatigan said the team has struggled with consistency all year but that the Panthers will still sit back with a positive outlook and wait and see how things play out.
"We've struggled with energy and emotion and playing with passion all the time," Rhatigan said. "When we decide to play with passion and as a team, we bring it but then when we focus more on individual play, it's hard to win.
"Senior night tonight, there were a lot of other emotions and that hurt us the first couple sets. You kind of want to hope for other teams (from the Front Range League) to win this weekend so that our RPI goes up."
Broomfield 3, Boulder 1
At Boulder HSBroomfield (7-12, 6-6)25252125Boulder (11-12, 4-8) 13172520
Kills — Broomfield: Nicole Gonzales 14, Vicki Fankell 12, Lesley Munson 9, Hope Hanak-Harper 7; Boulder: Hannah Bagley 8, Nicole Williams 6.
Blocks — Broomfield: Maddy Welty 3, Hanak-Harper 2; Boulder: Williams 5.
Assists — Broomfield: Kristina Consbruck 36; Boulder: Fiona Quinn 16, Cecily Quinn 11.
Aces — Broomfield: Consbruck 6, Gonzales 4; Boulder: Reagan 3, Williams 2.
Digs — Broomfield: Several with 8 apiece; Boulder: Bagley 18, Reagan 13.