NIWOT — For entirely different reasons this past weekend, the Niwot and Silver Creek volleyball teams were caught having to shuffle their lineups a little bit.
And, while the Raptors won't fully be the team they thought they were to start the season with sophomore libero Tess Peter out for the year, the Cougars were fortunate to have had just ACT testing to blame for the absence of some girls at the Lewis-Palmer tournament.
Niwot's roster was back to full on Tuesday night in their rivalry match at NHS, and the fact they were able to explore different things on Saturday made it more difficult for Silver Creek to handle in a 3-0 home win for the Cougars.
Zoe Gonzales made an impact along the front and back rows, Emma Falk and Audrey Richard provided support against a younger Raptors squad, and Niwot was able to overcome a slow start to win 25-22, 25-17, 25-13 and improve to 6-1 on the season.
"We got to see a little bit of adversity on the court (Saturday), and with new rotations, new people and new communication they still did awesome," said Niwot head coach Daisha Ahgo, whose team went 3-1 at the LPHS tourney. "Tonight was exciting, and we were a bit hyped up for the cross-town rival and couldn't settle down. When they relaxed, they got in a nice groove and we didn't have to adjust too much more."
The senior-heavy Cougars sat at No. 4 in the current CHSAANow.com rankings, and they flexed their muscles Tuesday after it was Silver Creek that capitalized on the initial aura brought by the spirited student sections.
The Raptors jumped out to a 9-1 lead in game one and made Niwot scramble for quite a few points the entire night, but the long volleys seemed to go the way of the home team.
Niwot tied the first game at 16-16, and seized momentum after taking its first lead a short time later. Defensively, with Gonzales making a surprise appearance in the back row in addition to racking up six total blocks up front, the Cougars forced Silver Creek into a less-than-desirable .042 hitting percentage for the match.
"We've been practicing on defense so much this year and I think it's paying off, just getting a touch on every ball and going for everything," senior setter Madison Schoeder said after a night where she tallied 22 assists. "I think we were able to focus on who their best hitter was and we read her very well to get in system together."
"I always tell them that if we don't have a nice look, just keep the ball in play and live to fight another day because our defense will give us another shot to put a ball down," Agho added. "We stay in rallies, and for the most part we were finding them tonight."
Richard and Falk had eight kills apiece to lead NHS, which also moved to 3-0 in the Northern League. Gonzales had six kills and five digs, and Niwot hit .208.
Cailtin Volkmann led Silver Creek (4-4, 2-2 Northern League) with nine kills, four total blocks, and four digs. With Emily Churchich hobbled by a sprained ankle — she still played all three sets Tuesday — the Raptors are continuing to try and make some positive adjustments.
"We had to do a lot of moving around tonight, and I used two different liberos tonight, but what can I say but Niwot is solid," Silver Creek coach Tatum McKenzie said. "It's just about learning for us ... They progressed with every game (Saturday) and even though this was a bit of a downfall we'll get back to where we need to be in no time."
Silver Creek will next play Friday at Greeley Central, while Niwot hosts Mountain View on Thursday.
Niwot 3, Silver Creek 0
At Niwot HSSilver Creek (4-4, 2-2)221713Niwot (6-1, 3-0)252525
Kills — Silver Creek: Caitlin Volkmann 9, Maggie Adams 5, Megan Sotiroff 3; Niwot: Audrey Richard 8, Emma Falk 8, Zoe Gonzales 6, Madison Schoeder 4, Natasha Terekhova 4.
Blocks — Silver Creek: Volkmann 4, Katie James 2; Niwot: Gonzales 6, Falk 2.
Assists — Silver Creek: Emily Churchich 10, Olivia Nelson 8; Niwot: Schoeder 22.
Aces — Silver Creek: Adams 1, Gabi Eisenberg 1, Nelson 1; Niwot: Falk 3.
Digs — Silver Creek: Volkmann 4, Nelson 3, Churchich 2; Niwot: Falk 8, Gonzales 5, Katie Hirsh 4.