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Volleyball: Neill, Buschmann lead Broomfield past Rocky Mountain for 10th straight win

Eagles haven’t lost since Sept. 11 against Cherry Creek

  • Broomfield High School's Lillia Neill (No. 14) spikes the ball to Rocky Mountain High School on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Broomfield High School's Macy Mahoney (No. 8) sets the ball in the game against Rocky Mountain High School on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Broomfield High School's Lillia Neill (No. 14) jumps to block a shot from Rocky Mountain High School's (No. on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021.

  • Broomfield High School's Sophie Buschmann (No. 4) spikes the ball to Rocky Mountain High School on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Broomfield High School's Sophie Buschmann (No. 4) keeps the ball in play in the game against Rocky Mountain High School on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Broomfield High School's Makayla Foster (No.9) serves during the game against Rocky Mountain High School on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Broomfield High School's Sophie Buschmann (No. 4) keeps the ball in play in the game against Rocky Mountain High School on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Broomfield High School's Macy Mahoney (No. 8) serves during the game against Rocky Mountain High School on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Broomfield High School's Lillia Neill (No. 14) spikes the ball to Rocky Mountain High School on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Broomfield High School's Grace Swenson (No. 2) keeps the ball in play in the game against Rocky Mountain High School on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Broomfield High School's Macy Mahoney (No. 8) and Sarah Collins (No. 5) try to block a shot from Rocky Mountain High School's Paige Fruehauf (No. 6) on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Broomfield High School's Lillia Neill (No. 14) spikes the ball to Rocky Mountain High School on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

  • Broomfield High School's Grace Swenson (No. 2) tries to block a spike from Rocky Mountain High School's Ashley Morris (No. 3) on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

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BROOMFILD — Missing the reigning Front Range League player of the year, Broomfield’s month-long winning streak looked in serious peril Tuesday night.

A response helped by the ever-efficient Lillia Neill … proficient enough.

Without kills-leader Emma Winter, who was under the weather, Neill along with another impressive performance from Hawaii beach volleyball commit Sophie Buschmann helped the Eagles overcome a difficult opening set to beat Rocky Mountain in four, extending their winning streak to 10.

“It really came as a team,” Neill said. Following the first set, “the energy changed. Everybody started making great hits, and the passing got better, and the setting got better. And that is literally what Broomfield is as a team.”

Unforced errors had played a part in the opening set loss to the Lobos. It was Broomfield’s first dropped frame in its previous six matches dating back to Sept. 21. But helped by Neill, who transitioned during this season from a longtime middle blocker to an outside hitter, she held down a domineering presence at the net for the next three frames.

The junior threw down a series of winners to help Class 5A’s sixth-ranked Eagles (17-2, 7-0 5A FRL) build a double-digit lead in a runaway second set. On one blast, the momentum would sting the arms of a defender and clap the floor. Another, as leaping bodies charged to the net in defense, she’d lightly tap it over them, finding an open space for a gentle landing.

Neill and Buschmann then traded one crucial kill after another in strong showings in the third and fourth, snapping a two-game win streak by Rocky Mountain (6-7, 3-3).

Individually, Buschmann likely did more to improve her standings inside the top-10 kills leaders in the state, coming into the night ninth with 213.

Neill’s high place among efficient hitters will improve, too. The junior was ranked sixth in 5A kill percentage (.497) among players with at least 150 kills on the season and she ranked fourth among them in hitting percentage (.396).

“Lillia Neill played middle for me for three years,” Eagles coach Bob Knox said. “We trained her as a middle and she started as a middle for us this year. And we were kind of hurting on the outside, and in high school, outside is where you need to be. So, she converted. And I’m so proud of her. Her transition, her footwork to become an outside, and her power, has really helped us. She’s going to be an amazing player no matter what position (she’s in).”

Knox’s group remained alone atop the Front Range League standings while dropping just its second set in league play.

Its current 10-game winning streak, meanwhile, is among the longest in the 5A classification. No. 1 Cherry Creek had a chance to extend its run to 18 Tuesday, but lost to unranked Cherokee Trail. No. 3 Chaparral pushed its streak to 11 Tuesday, No. 4 Valor Christian ticked its to 10.

“We need to just keep working together,” Buschmann said. “Teamwork is a big thing and our communication is really crucial to how successful we are.”

The Eagles will hope to return to full strength when they travel to Boulder Thursday.