NIWOT — Some wins are simply bigger than others.
Longmont’s volleyball team has done more than it’s fair share of winning this season, but perhaps there were none bigger than on Tuesday night against No. 3 Niwot.
The Trojans, who dropped a thrilling five-set match to the Cougars last month, exacted some Northern League revenge, delivering Niwot it’s first league setback — once again in dramatic five set fashion.
“This means so much. We’ve had a tough rally with Niwot for the past two seasons and that game earlier this year was such a good game,” Longmont senior Rachel Kusbel said. “We came out and we really proved ourselves tonight. We had the odds stacked against us and we still came out and played our hardest and for each other.”
Eighth-ranked Longmont improves to 14-2 overall and 9-2 in the Northern and just one game back of Niwot. The Cougars drop to 13-2 overall and 10-1 inside the league.
The Trojans came flying out of the gate, taking the first two games from a Niwot squad that was experimenting with a few rotations.
Nonetheless, Longmont took advantage, winning the first two games 25-16 and 25-23.
“We have been excited to play against Niwot because they do provide that measuring stick for us and they are a tremendous team with tremendous athletes and a lot of obstacles to overcome,” Longmont coach Holli Stetson said. “We were very thankful to come in here and do so well.”
The Cougars didn’t go quietly into the mid-October night. The Cougars took Game 3 25-16 and then rallied from a 21-16 deficit in the fourth — eventually winning 25-22 — to force Game 5.
In the decisive fifth, Longmont jumped out to a quick 8-3 lead behind the serving of junior Annika Wetterstrom — who tallied three of her game-high four aces during the opening rally.
Niwot answered right back after a Daisha Agho timeout. Zoe Gonzales recorded back-to-back blocks and then back-to-back kills to get the Cougars back on level terms.
Longmont closed out the match on a 7-4 run to win the fifth 15-12 and draw within a game of the Cougars atop the league.
“We mentioned (going into) that fifth set to look at each other and think of each individual persons wants and needs and how much it meant to everyone else,” said Kusbel, whose team drew from a similar experience earlier this season against Silver Creek. “And then play for them.”
Said Agho, who knows her team will rebound quickly from a rare defeat: “You win some and you lose some; and you cant put ourselves in the situation we did. But in the end it’s a teaching moment, a learning moment, and if we can come out of that with a better attitude, we’ll be fine.”
Kusbel finished the game with 23 kills for Longmont. Stanford-bound Cougars senior Mackenzie Fidelak finished with 22.
LONGMONT 3, NIWOT 2
Longmont (14-2, 9-2)2525162215—3
Niwot (13-2, 10-1)1623252512—2
Kills — Longmont: Rachel Kusbel 23, Payton Jonason 11; Niwot: Mackenzie Fidelak 22, Zoe Gonzales 12.
Blocks — Longmont: Kaitlyn Bridge 3, Kusbel 3; Niwot: Emma Falk 3.
Assists — Longmont: Annika Wetterstrom 38; Niwot: Madison Schoeder 34.
Aces — Longmont: Wetterstrom 4, Kusbel 3; Niwot: Fidelak 3, Katie Pearson 2.
Digs — Longmont: Wetterstrom 14, Ellen Goodwin 10; Niwot: Pearson 17, Fidelak 14.