LONGMONT — The first game of the 2019 season for the Silver Creek Raptors saw them defeat the Berthoud Spartans 3-1 in a matchup of two teams that played in the Class 4A state tournament a season ago.
The first and third set of the matches were tightly contested with the two teams trading points and needing more than 25 to win. The other two sets, however, saw Silver Creek open big leads early before going on to win.
“It feels really great,” Silver Creek’s Megan Sotiroff said. “It feels like we really came together as a team and really helped each other to beat this team. (Berthoud) was a tough team and we had to come together, but we did and we won.”
Sotiroff and Caitlin Volkmann showed they were more than ready to lead the offensive attack once again this season. The two traded the chance to be the go-to player killing the ball at the net and leading the way offensively. When Volkmann saw some tips at the net and digs on the back row early, Sotiroff would come through with kills. Then the offense started to run through Volkmann as she recorded kill after kill for a stretch of time.
The two big hitters finished with double-digit kills in the win, picking up where they left off last season.
“It felt like the team was a whole, everyone was happy and swinging and being aggressive,” Sotiroff said. “It was a great feeling.”
But while the two were racking up kills, they also saw some kills taken off the board with a Berthoud defense that bounced back from a 3-0 loss to Thompson Valley two days ago.
Emma Genger, Teagan Holmes and a host of players up front managed to get up and slow down a few kill attempts from Silver Creek with blocks and tips at the net. If the ball did get through, libero Allison Waller was there to clean up a number of shots. Waller efforts proved to be a difference maker in the first and third sets that went into extra points.
“Those types of hitters will always get those swings no matter what,” Berthoud coach Mil Santos said. “All we can do is hope to contain them. We can’t stop them, but we can contain them. I felt we did a pretty good job defensively. Allison Waller did a great job digging some balls.”
Silver Creek took the first set 26-24 with a pair of points in the extra frame to take the early lead. When it looked like they were on their way to a sweep in the third set, Berthoud answered by forcing extra points and then getting two kills in a row to win 27-25.
But the night would belong to Silver Creek, thanks to bounce-back performances in the second and fourth sets. The Raptors jumped out to an early lead and then scored 10 unanswered points to open up a 24-11 lead before winning 25-18 in the second set, and after Berthoud forced a fourth set the Raptors went on a run at the midway point in set four to win 25-15.
“We helped each other and picked each other up,” Sotiroff said on sets two and four. “Our energy was definitely popping. It was great to see.”
With the first game under their belts, Silver Creek will have some time to work together next week and continuing making up for lost time they didn’t have during the summer before returning to the court on Sept. 10 at Northridge.
“We communicated well as a team and had good chemistry,” Sotiroff said. “We can definitely beat some good teams.”
On the other side, Berthoud will return to action on Saturday and play four games in a tournament at Regis Jesuit High School. Despite sitting 0-2, Santos saw a much-improved team Thursday night and hopes his young team will continue the upward trajectory in the early portion of the season.
“We want to build on this,” Santos said. “We have four matches this weekend. Hopefully this will help up out.”