Volleyball: Longmont sweeps Northridge to climb over .500

Trojans extend win streak to four matches

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School's Bridget Kusbel blocks a kill during a game against Northridge on Wednesday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School's Emily Widhalm stops a serve during a game against Northridge on Wednesday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School's Bridget Kusbel goes for a kill during a game against Northridge on Wednesday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School's Rachel Mau serves the ball during a game against Northridge on Wednesday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School's Payton Jonason goes for a kill over Samantha Wahlmeier during a game against Northridge on Wednesday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School's Payton Jonason goes for a kill during a game against Northridge on Wednesday in Longmont.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    Longmont High School's Caroline Demosthenes, center, and Emily Foraker try to block a kill from Samantha Kircher during a game against Northridge on Wednesday in Longmont.

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LONGMONT – The Northern League title race in volleyball last fall came down to a two-team race with Longmont and Niwot battling to the end. Both finished with one league loss while Silver Creek finished a distant third with four league losses.

This season, however, the league appears to be far more competitive top to bottom as the early stages of league play set in.

Longmont got off to a slow start at 1-4 but is starting to get back to the level they expected to play at this year. Riding a three-game win streak, the Trojans won in a sweep 3-0 over the Northridge Grizzlies on Thursday to sit above .500 for the first time this season.

Longmont High School's Bridget Kusbel goes ...
Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer
Longmont High School’s Bridget Kusbel goes for a kill during a game against Northridge on Wednesday in Longmont.

“It feels pretty great,” Longmont’s Bridget Kusbel said. “It’s taken time to get used to everyone, but I think we’re coming along now.”

Northridge did not make things easy at the start of the match when it took the early lead and held it for the first half of the opening set. Mistakes from Longmont were capitalized on and head coach Holli Stetson was forced to take a timeout to get her team back on track.

“We started very slow and really made a ton of errors and gave them unearned points,” Stetson said.

The timeout served as the wake-up call needed for Longmont to regroup and get on track the rest of the night.

Kusbel and Payton Jonason formed a solid one-two punch at the net killing the ball to spark a scoring run that allowed Longmont to take the lead. The run continued to the finish the set as the Trojans scored 13 of the final 15 points and grab the first set 25-17.

In set two, the Trojans looked like the team they were hoping to see at the beginning of the night, scoring 16 of the first 17 points and cruising to a 25-11 win. Kusbel had seven kills and Jonason recorded six, doing most of their damage in the first two sets.

“I’ve just been training hard,” Kusbel said. “We have really great coaches that also support us all.”

A big win in the second set allowed Stetson to use her bench more in the final set, one that started out close but saw Longmont pull away late to win 25-11.

When Longmont got off to the 1-4 start, Stetson had her team make some minor adjustments in the lineup that have paid off. More than anything, however, was getting back to the basics with the group.

“We rearranged our lineup and shifted a few things around,” Stetson said. “We focused on some basics and have really tried to go back to playing basic volleyball. I think our kids are warming up to the lineup we have now and trusting each other. They are playing with less hesitation.”

Those adjustments and better play come at a crucial point as conference play rolls along and the league looks to be wide open this season. Already the Trojans have dropped a five-set match to Thompson Valley and were pushed early by a Northridge team who came into Thursday without a win. The early eye test makes it seem that multiple teams could be in the title picture this year due to winning teams losing key seniors from last year and younger teams coming out of the gate strong.

“I want to get back to that quality play we had last year,” Stetson said. “We are getting there. The competition at the top is pretty fast and furious.”

If the success continues, Longmont could find itself back to the top of the standings as they travel to face Silver Creek on Tuesday.

“We have to fight really hard for that one,” Kusbel said. “I’m sure we’re going to come out doing good.”