LONGMONT — Erie volleyball may not have played many contests heading into its Tuesday night match at Class 4A’s sixth-ranked Mead, but the Tigers have more than proven their stock.
Through five ultra-competitive sets, the Tigers leaned on their eight seniors to get the job done with a 3-2 victory over the Mavericks, and the Mavericks made them work for each and every point.
“This win feels extremely good, especially after last year, considering how we got shut out by them in three sets,” Erie senior Maggie Olson said. “They ended up getting state runner-up last year and then we came back and beat them for our senior season.”
Going into Tuesday night’s home contest against the Tigers, Mead had faced four ranked teams and sifted through a 3-4 (now 3-5) record, including three straight setbacks to Class 4A powerhouse and current No. 1 ranked Palmer Ridge, 3A’s third-ranked University and Frederick, who rose to No. 7 in Tuesday’s most recent CHSAANow.com coaches poll.
Erie’s road to Tuesday’s match hadn’t exactly been a walk in the park either, as the Tigers fought to a 2-1 record through a schedule that earned them the No. 8 RPI ranking on CHSAANow.com. Mead, by comparison, sat at No. 19.
“Our schedule, I purposely made it super competitive because I think it’s important for us to learn how to deal with these issues early on, that challenging the team early on like this is going to help us learn not just rotations and stuff like that on floor but also how to bounce back from losses, how to deal with pressure,” Mead coach Mikayla Martinez said.
Given the relative strength of both teams, it came as no surprise when the Tigers and Mavericks engaged in an all-out war defined by long volleys, impressive recoveries, high volleyball IQs and an extraordinarily high-energy style of play.
The Tigers and Mavericks clung to every point throughout an exciting first set and, 47 volleys later, Mead came out on top with a 25-22 final. That exhaustive first frame gave way to a second defined by waning energy as each squad enjoyed its own separate streaks. Erie reaped the benefits of strong play from its front row to take set two by a 25-17 score.
The Tigers carried that momentum into the third set, which they subsequently stole in another 25-17 decision. That meant do-or-die time for the Mavericks, and the home team didn’t disappoint.
Mead stormed back with a fury in set four and broke away after the score read 13-10 in its favor. Four consecutive points were all the Mavericks needed to carry that energy into a 25-14 final to force a fifth set.
“I think this early few weeks has been teaching us a lot,” Mead senior Quincey Coyle said. “We have a lot of talent on this team, and it’s also a very new team as well. We have a couple returning varsity players from last year. I think it’s just a lot of getting used to playing with each other and I know it’s been a little while and we’re kind of struggling with that, but we’re really getting there.”
The Tigers came out white-hot in the fifth and final set and, try as they might, the Mavericks couldn’t match their visitors’ fire. Erie ran away with a 15-9 final for a hard-fought victory.
“We did some great things tonight. The thing that I really noticed about this group is that they’re extremely coachable. We’re able to change things on the fly. They work really, really hard in practice, so we’re able to have a lot of different options,” Erie coach Lindsey Brown said. “We’re a hard team to scout right now because we can put ourselves in many different situations.”
The Mavericks head back to competition at Palmer Ridge on Thursday as Erie returns to action at Silver Creek on the same night.