NIWOT — As one of the few seniors on the Niwot volleyball team, Julia Vaiser has a firm grasp on the GS/IL ratio.
That, of course, being the game situation/intensity level ratio. There are times to play 100 percent. And there are times to play at a higher level than that.
Tuesday night was the latter.
The Cougars earned a gritty, come-from-behind win against 4A Northern League-rival Mountain View, needing wins in the final two sets to pull off the home victory. Thanks to Vaiser — and much help from Cori Kirschling, Meghan Richards and others — Niwot triumphed 25-20, 14-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12.
“In the huddle, I reminded the girls that every game we play counts toward state,” Vaiser said. “And this is the year we want to take it that far. We wanted it more than they did, and we had to push for every single point.”
After winning the opening set, Niwot (7-3, 3-2) had a lackluster second set and competed in a third-set loss, but it looked like the Mountain Lions (6-4, 3-2) had seized command.
But not so fast. Vaiser, who finished with 20 kills, was on fire late.
“She really turned it on,” Niwot coach Chris Koerner said. “One of the things we were preaching is don’t tip it, don’t get cute, just pound away. That’s what we did in the fourth and fifth set, and that’s what won us the ballgame.”
Kirschling, a 5-foot-9 1/2 sophomore, was prominent from the outside all match with 17 kills. Richards had 43 assists, and Renee Plomodon chipped in seven kills.
For Niwot, added joy appeared to stem from the ability to pick up the pieces after falling behind.
“We knew we could do it,” Kirschling said. “We just needed to pick our energy up and quit making unforced errors. We really relied on (Vaiser). She’s the loudest one out there most of the time and she really helped us bring it together.”
Mountain View had multiple contributors, with Nicole Goddard (13 kills) and Katie Hanson (11) the biggest factors at the net. The Mountain Lions stormed back after losing the opening set, which wasn’t a total shock to Koerner.
“We have a history as a team of coming out a bit flat if we win the first set,” he said. “We think, ‘Oh, they’re going to roll over and die.’ Well, the good teams don’t.”
Buoyed by the support of a vocal student section, the Cougars jumped to an 11-3 lead in the fifth set then held on as Mountain View made a last-ditch comeback attempt. Niwot’s final three points came via fierce kills by Vaiser.
“I was just getting so into it, and I think I was a little bit pissed off too,” Vaiser said. “I decided we had nothing to lose and I was just going to give it my all.”
Follow Paul on Twitter: @PaulWillis21
Niwot 3, Mountain View 2
At Niwot HS
Mountain View (6-4, 3-2) 20 25 25 21 12
Niwot (7-3, 3-2) 25 14 23 25 25
Kills — Mountain View: Goddard 13, Hanson 11, Carrera 7, Miller 5, Benedict 3, Waddell 2. Niwot: Vaiser 20, Kirschling 17, Plomodon 7, Richard 5, Patterson 3, Kosten 3.
Blocks — Mountain View: Carrera 3, Benedict 2, Miller, Waddell, Goddard. Niwot: Patterson 3, Kirschling, Plomodon, Vaiser, Richard.
Assists — Niwot: Richard 43.
Aces — Mountain View: Goddard 4, Eliopulos 2, Harrison 2, Benedict, Miller. Niwot: Vaiser 2, Richard 2, Sigg, Plomodon.
Digs — Niwot: Sigg 32, Kirschling 17, Vaiser 11, Kosten 1.