The Fairview volleyball team needed the test in the worst way, and the Boulder Panthers were happy to supply it Monday night in the Boulder High gym.
After going back-and-forth in an emotion-filled Front Range League contest spiced up by lively student sections from both sides, the Knights took control of the fifth set to outlast Boulder 3-2 and improve to a salty 14-0 on the season.
At this point, Fairview’s Aza Verhoeven and her teammates know they are going to get everyone’s best effort as they try and knock them off, and Boulder put up a heck of an effort trying to defend its home court.
“It was intense, no doubt,” Verhoeven said after the Knights took a 26-28, 27-25, 25-20, 20-25, 15-6 win. “It’s the cross-town rivalry, and they’re a great team to begin with, and you add in the student sections and it’s just crazy.
“I think we played well and Boulder played really well. They brought their best because they knew we were undefeated and they were stronger than us to start. But we came back from that and did our best.”
A balanced attack carried Fairview throughout the night, while Boulder’s Gabby Eyl and Cassidy Evans took charge for their team. Christine Schmiedeler had 15 kills, Caroline Schmiedeler had 12 and Bailey MacInnis had 11 for the Knights.
However, Alli Williams and the middles had a great night, head coach Brooke Simmons said.
“That’s always kind of a big part of the game plan, but the middles really keyed our offense,” Simmons said. “Boulder had a great block and they were keyed on our outsides, so we were able to run the middle and they executed. That was a big piece of our win.”
Boulder (7-6, 3-5 Front Range League) utilized every bit of emotion and energy from the team as well as their pumped-up fans, taking Set 1 with three straight kills from Eyl, who finished with 19 for the match.
The Panthers had Fairview (7-0 FRL) looking a little disheveled even deep into Set 2, gaining as much as a 24-18 advantage. But Fairview stormed back in a big way, tying the game at 25 with an Audrey Cheng kill, and closing it with a kill from Christine Schmiedeler.
Fairview controlled Set 3, too, but the Panthers didn’t relent. Fairview led 16-12 in Set 4, but BHS took a lead with Evans serving — she had two aces and a kill in a string of five points — and the Panthers forced a fifth set by letting Fairview make mistakes.
The Knights were pretty pristine in Set 5, though, gaining a 7-2 lead on the strength of an ace, two blocks and two kills.
Verhoeven was involved in both crucial blocks at the end, and that was an area the team felt went in their favor most of the night. Verhoeven was credited with nine blocks, and Christine Schmiedeler had seven.
“I think we really came on strong, and we wanted to gain control of that game and stay in control,” Simmons said. “We brought everything together, executed plays really well, and I thought our block did an incredible job.”
“I always trust my blockers to be up” added Caroline Schmiedeler, who had 13 digs. “They shut down the outside and we’re grateful for that. The energy on the court, we always just seem to be able to pick ourselves up.”
Eyl also had 28 digs, and Evans had 17 kills in a very strong effort. The Panthers showed intensity throughout, and Boulder coach Kyle Rhatigan was pleased with how his team played in light of the competition.
“I thought they fought great the whole night and had great intensity,” Rhatigan said. “They were right there, really close the whole time. We had chances in tight games to close it out, and the first game we did and the second game we didn’t. We just didn’t get enough close plays to win.”
Fairview continues FRL play Tuesday against Mountain Range. Boulder plays at Legacy Tuesday.
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Fairview 3, Boulder 2
At Boulder HS
Fairview (14-0, 7-0) 26 27 25 20 15
Boulder (7-6, 3-5) 28 25 20 25 6
Kills — Fairview: Christine Schmiedeler 15, Caroline Schmiedeler 12, Bailey MacInnis 11. Boulder: Gabby Eyl 19, Cassidy Evans 17.
Blocks — Fairview: Chr. Schmiedeler 9, Aza Verhoeven 7. Boulder:Multiple with one each.
Assists — Fairview: Audrey Cheng 45. Boulder: Emma Chow 41.
Aces — Fairview: Cheng 2, Mari Jewell 2. Boulder: Evans 3, Eyl 2.
Digs — Fairview: Cree Lawrence 14, Ca. Schmiedeler 13, Jewell 11. Boulder: Eyl 28, Evans 18, Tate Todea 14.