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Volleyball: Kubiak helps lead Monarch past Boulder

Sophie Kubiak had nine aces, eight kills and 20 digs for Monarch

Monarch's Lizzy Gawley gets in position ...
Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com
Monarch’s Lizzy Gawley gets in position for a dig against Boulder on Tuesday, March, 30, 2021.
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LOUISVILLE — Sophie Kubiak, Monarch’s undersized outside hitter, proved a towering presence with her team’s back to the wall.

The 5-foot-7 junior asserted herself brilliantly at the net and backline — and with the spotlight on, she came up clutch at the service line in a momentum-swaying third set as the Coyotes dug out of several holes to beat Boulder in four sets Tuesday night.

“Her volleyball IQ is above and beyond your typical high school player,” Monarch coach Jennifer Dixon said. “She’s just so smart as a player that it makes up for maybe a shorter or smaller frame. But she jumps out of the gym and she’s our game-changer a lot of times.”

With the teams knotted at one set apiece, the Coyotes wrestled out of a late, five-point deficit and charged back on the strength of Kubiak. The junior made a nifty one-handed dig falling backward and blasted a winner while holding the serve for the frame’s final 11 points.

Monarch then finished it not long afterward despite trailing for a fourth consecutive set. Its unassuming hero had both a rocketing blast and a touch winner as part of a late run, and Lizzy Gawley added a few floor-squealing digs on the backline, as the Coyotes (1-1, 1-0 5A Front Range League) clinched their first win of the season, 19-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-20.

It was only Monarch’s second win over Boulder (1-3, 0-2) in the last 10 meetings.

“For how much practice we’ve had it’s a really big deal with how well we’re doing and how well we’re clicking together,” said Kubiak, who finished with nine aces, eight kills and 20 digs. “The fact we beat a team I don’t think we’ve beaten in my high school career is awesome.”

Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com
Boulder’s Piper Ellbogen-Pettersen serves during their match played at Monarch on Tuesday, March, 30, 2021. (Photo by Brent W. New/BoCoPreps.com)

The Panthers never trailed in the opening set and a 4-0 spurt put them ahead 23-16. Despite a couple late, leaping digs from Gawley, kills by Ainsley Duffield and Anouk de Lange eventually gave the set to Boulder.

But momentum started to fluctuate early in the second as Gawley controlled the serve for five consecutive points. Kubiak landed a few thumping winners, as did Elizabeth Butchko and Julia Jupille, and the advantage grew to 15-9. Boulder responded on a 9-3 run, highlighted by a crushing blast by Duffield that deflected off a defender and ended eight rows deep in the bleachers. Monarch, though, came back with the final five points for its first of three straight set wins.

“They were put in some pressure situations and instead of acknowledging that they were there, and welcoming it and playing through it, they let the pressure dictate how they played,” Boulder coach Kyle Rhatigan said. “We just didn’t do a good job of managing that pressure and trusting our skills.”

The Panthers will play their second of a three-game, three-night span Wednesday as it travels to face Denver East in their final nonleague match of the season. Monarch is at Poudre Thursday.