NIWOT — In the past two volleyball seasons, the scale of power in the 4A Northern League has tilted a bit with teams like Niwot and Silver Creek garnering their share of the wins.
But it hasn’t changed that much. Longmont is still the team to beat.
On Tuesday Longmont, the two-time defending conference champions, swept upstart Niwot 25-16, 25-21, 25-18. It could be tougher than recent years, but the Trojans aren’t ready to loosen their grip on the Northern just yet.
“They’re (Niwot) definitely better this year,” Trojans senior setter Elena Michalski said. “This is a huge win for us because it absolutely shows how tight they were with Thompson Valley. We’re all at the top of the conference right now. This shows that we’re here to play, here to win, against the whole conference again this year.”
The host Cougars (5-2, 1-2) nearly upset Thompson Valley, the 2012 Northern League runner-up, last Thursday, losing 15-13 in the fifth game. Recognizing them as a legitimate threat to their rule, the undefeated Trojans (6-0, 3-0) made a point of putting down the Niwot uprising.
With the depth of talent on the Trojans’ roster, Michalski was able to pick and choose how the Trojans would score and from where. She finished with 22 assists and five kills.
In Game 1, the Trojans rallied behind early offense from senior Dailyn Johnson. In Game 2 it was sophomore Sydney Wetterstrom, who led the team with 12 kills, and Becca Mau that carried the scoring. In Game 3, five different Trojans collected a kill behind Michalski’s passing, including Michalski scoring a pair of kills on a couple tricky shots of her own.
While she brilliantly orchestrated the offense, Michalski said the Trojans felt fine in their own fast-paced scheme but were surprised when the Cougars returned with a quick-hit attack of their own. But, she said, they figured it out quickly enough to contain the match to three games.
“We really needed to adjust to that, which we’re not used to,” Michalski said. “We responded well and we won.”
Wetterstrom, who entered Monday’s game seventh in the Northern with 2.2 kills per set, said the Trojans’ regular-season goals remain unchanged in 2013.
“It’s the first game towards being city champs, and you have to win that first one,” Wetterstrom said. “And they were listed at the top of the conference and we feel like we want that spot so we had to correct that.”
Mau, the Trojans’ leading hitter, entered third in Class 4A with 4.3 kills per set. She had eight against the Cougars.
Niwot junior Cori Kirschling, who entered the match second in 4A with 4.8 kills per set, fired a game-high 15. But each time the Cougars caught fire behind Kirschling, Chelsea Patterson (7 kills) or even freshman Mikayla Dennis (6 kills) they seemed to kill their own rallies.
Niwot committed 11 service errors, which repeatedly extinguished their chances at stringing together runs at the Trojans’ lead. Just in Game 2, the closest of the three, three of those service errors ended runs of two or more.
The Trojans committed just one service error in the match.
“That was huge,” Niwot first-year head coach Preston Brown said. “If you look back at games one and two, that was the point the point differential, or pretty close to it anyway. We did better in Game 3. We were very close up to about 17-17 but Longmont is steady, and we had a little bit of a mental breakdown, and they pulled away from us.”
Senior setter Meghan Richard had 32 assists for the Cougars.
The Trojans were without Maddie Precht, who has been injured since last Wednesday. Sophomore Madison Gaibler filled in for her on Tuesday.
The Cougars will face the Trojans again on Oct. 10 at Longmont High School. They host Broomfield (3-5, 2-1) on Thursday while the Trojans play host to Centaurus (1-4, 0-3) that same night.
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Longmont 3, Niwot 0
At Niwot HS
Longmont (6-0, 3-0) 25 25 25
Niwot (5-2, 1-2) 16 21 18
Kills — Longmont: Wetterstrom 12, Mau 8, Michalski 5, Johnson 5, McKinney 3; Niwot: Kirschling 15, Patterson 7, Dennis 6, Weckerly 3.
Blocks — Longmont: Wetterstrom 4, Mau 3, Gaibler; Niwot: Dennis, Richard.
Assists — Longmont: Michalski 22; Niwot: Richard 32.
Aces — Longmont: Kirschling 2, McCaddon, Richard; Niwot: Wetterstrom, Brazell.
Digs — Longmont: Mau 10, Brazell 7, Michalski 6, McKinney 4, Gaibler 2, Hill 2; Niwot: Richard 10, Dennis 7, McCaddon 10, Kirschling 4, McCarthy 3, Weckerly 2, Eliopulos 2.