LONGMONT — The first match between Longmont and Niwot has been a strong indicator of what team would be the frontrunner to win the Northern League title in each of the past several seasons.
It was that yet again on Tuesday night.
In 2017, Longmont and Niwot split a home-and-away conference series. Both matches went five sets with the away team winning. Both fifth sets were decided by three or fewer points. In the first match of the annual home-and-away series of 2018, however, Longmont came from behind while playing at home to win a matchup between two of Class 4A's top 10 teams convincingly, 3-1.
"This year, we're just playing really well as a team," Trojans senior right side Autumn Drees said. "This was an important win because Niwot is one of the better teams in our conference and we know a lot of the people from Niwot. They're amazing players so this really shows that we've been working hard and we're playing well."
The No. 5-ranked Trojans (11-1, 7-0 Northern) have won 11 straight matches since a season-opening loss to No. 8 Mead on Aug. 23. The No. 4-ranked Cougars (9-2, 6-1 Northern) had only lost once prior to Tuesday night, falling to No. 1 Lewis-Palmer on the road on Sept. 8.
State semifinalists last fall, the Cougars pulled ahead early by winning the first set, 25-21. The Trojans responded with a 25-20 win to tie the match in the second set and then edged the Cougars 27-25 in a back-and-forth third set. Leading 2-1 going into a critical fourth set, Longmont jumped out to an 8-0 lead and held off several comeback attempts from the Cougars to win 25-19.
With her team winning on Tuesday night to follow up consecutive sweeps of Northridge, Silver Creek and Centaurus, Trojans head coach Holli Stetson said she was most pleased with how her team executed its game plan against Niwot.
"I thought that we served very aggressively and that kept them from using their favorite hitters as effectively as I know they are capable of doing," Stetson said. "I felt like our defense played super well. Ellen Goodwin, Tara Hitchcock and Zoe Lowe really stepped it up and our block was so much more effective in sets three and four than it was in the first two."
Annika Wetterstrom, who entered Tuesday's match fifth in 4A in assists, led the Trojans with 39 on Tuesday night. Payton Jonason led the way with 14 kills and Caroline Demosthenes had six block assists.
For Niwot, big hitters Zoe Gonzales and Emma Falkcombined for 34 kills and setter Madison Schoeder had 41 assists.
"Longmont is well-coached and we were expecting a great game," Cougars head coach Daisha Agho said. "There were just a few things that we didn't do fundamentally very well. Passing, serving, it was uncharacteristic for us to hit that many balls out of bounds. But it's all stuff that we can fix and we fully expect another great match when we see them again."
The Trojans will play again Thursday at Mountain View. Also on Thursday, the Cougars will host Centaurus. Longmont and Niwot will face one another again on Oct. 18 at Niwot.
Longmont 3, Niwot 1
At Longmont H.S.Niwot (9-2, 6-1) 25202519
Kills — Niwot: Falk 21, Gonzales 13, Au. Richard 11, Terekhova 6, Grafelman, Schoeder; Longmont: Jonason 14, Creighton 11, Drees 8, Demosthenes 7, Wetterstrom 3, Lowe 3, Goodwin 2, Hitchcock.
Blocks — Niwot: Gonzales 3, Schoeder 3, Falk 2, Au. Richard, Grafelman, Terekhova ; Longmont: Demosthenes 6, Wetterstrom 4, Creighton 3, Drees 2, Jonason, Lowe.
Assists — Niwot: Schoeder 41, Turner; Longmont: Wetterstrom 39, Goodwin 2 .
Aces — Niwot: Au. Richard 3, Grafelman 2, Gonzales; Longmont: Wetterstrom 6, Drees 2, Goodwin, Jonason, Lowe.
Digs — Niwot: Au. Richard 21, An. Richard 12, Schoeder 16, Falk 10, Terekhova 7, Hirsh 6, Grafelman 4, Gonzales 4; Longmont: Goodwin 31, Wetterstrom 16, Lowe 16, Drees 8, Hitchcock 6, Demonsthenes 4, Jonason.