NIWOT — The Niwot High School volleyball team always looks forward to playing longstanding powerhouse and cross-town conference rival Longmont High.
Perhaps a bit more than usual, or at least with a different sense of promise, the Cougars were especially eager for Thursday’s contest with Longmont. Star outside hitter Cori Kirschling said that was because the Cougars were confident they could win.
Turns out the Cougars were right.
Playing at home, Niwot defeated the three-time Northern League champions in a five-set nail-biter, 25-14, 25-23, 22-25, 21-25, 15-10.
“We were really excited this year because we definitely thought it was a huge possibility,” Kirschling said. “They’re a cross-town rival and we can’t remember the last time we beat Longmont. To come out here and win the first two sets really amped us up and in the fifth game, we really wanted it so we pushed as hard as we could.”
The Trojans have won each meeting between the two teams dating back at least through 2007, according to MaxPreps.com. The Trojans also swept the Cougars last season, outplaying them to the tune of six games to one in two matches.
Kirschling led the way towards breaking the streak with a match-high 27 kills on Thursday. Not only was the victory liberating for the Cougars, it also moved them one big step closer to accomplishing their season goals.
“We have a really strong team with a lot of depth and energy and it’s always great to win here at home,” Kirschling said. “Our goals are to win conference and to host regionals then go on to state. This was huge because this puts us closer to first in the conference.”
Coming off an important 3-0 win against Thompson Valley, Thursday’s win moved the Cougars (7-3, 4-1 Northern) into second place in the 4A Northern League just behind the Mountain View Mountain Lions (5-5, 4-1 Northern), who beat them 3-1 on Sept. 9.
Senior Jenny Townsend led the Cougars with 59 assists, senior Maeve McCarthy led with 34 digs, sophomore Sarah Falk led with three blocks and Kirschling had five aces.
The Cougars stormed out to a 16-3 lead on their way to winning Game 1 and held on to win Game 2 behind solid play up from Falk and freshman Mackenzie Fidelak.
The Trojans’ balanced attack and defense gave them a turn with the lead early on in Game 3 and they rode that momentum to win the back-and-forth Game 4. Game 5 was tied seven times before the Cougars scored the final five points to win 15-10.
The loss snapped a four-game win streak for the Trojans (6-4, 4-2). Junior Sydney Wetterstrom led the Trojans with 16 kills, Megan McKinney had 30 assists and Jessica Kusbel had seven blocks.
“We started off the night kind of passive and they jumped on us real quick,” Trojans head coach Tom Hunter said. “They have a few very good physical players and their setter does a really good job. We started putting the pressure back on them but in the end, they outplayed us.”
Niwot will play at Greeley Central on Tuesday. Longmont hosts Valor Christian for a non-league battle on Saturday.
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Niwot 3, Longmont 2
At Niwot H.S.
Longmont (6-4, 4-2) 14 23 25 25 10
Niwot (7-3, 4-1) 25 25 22 21 15
Kills — Longmont: Wetterstrom 16, Berger 7, Walker 5, Gaibler 4, Kusbel 3, McKinney 3, Real 2; Niwot: Kirschling 27, Fidelak 11, Eliopulos 7, Dennis 6, Falk 6.
Blocks — Longmont: Kusbel 7, Gaibler 4, Berger 3, Wetterstrom 3, McKinney 2, Real; Niwot: Falk 3, Townsend 2, Dennis 2, Kirschling, Fidelak.
Assists — Longmont: McKinney 30, Page 3; Niwot: Townsend 59, Fidelak.
Aces — Longmont: Wetterstrom 5, McKinney 2; Niwot: Kirschling 5, Fidelak.
Digs — Longmont: Wetterstrom 21, McKinney 13, Walker 9, Kusbel 8, McConahy 7, Berger 6; Niwot: McCarthy 34, Townsend 14, Kirschling 11, Fidelak 10, Weckerly 9, Dennis 6, Eliopulos 5.