Volleyball: Niwot shakes off Mountain View
September 27, 2017
Niwot couldn’t overcome Lewis Palmer on the court three weeks ago, but even a loss to the 4A defending champions has its advantages. When CHSAA unveiled its initial 2017 Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) rankings for the fall sports last week, the Cougars found themselves alone at the top of the list, if just for a few days. The RPI, which ranks teams based on win/loss record and strength of schedule, determines post-season seeding for volleyball, football, softball and soccer.
For Niwot head coach Daisha Agho, the high ranking is certainly praiseworthy, but she cautioned that it’s not necessarily predictive this early in the season. Since the rankings were first released, Niwot picked up two wins against Northern League opponents to move to 9-1 on the season and 6-0 in conference, but dropped to second in the RPI due to Lewis-Palmer’s three wins in the same period, including a sweep of third-ranked Valor Christian.
“Obviously we’re excited,” said Agho, whose team is also ranked second in the CHSAA Class 4A weekly poll, “but I don’t want them to look at that and get too excited. Overall, our strength of schedule so far has really helped us out, it’s put us in the position where we are with the RPI. But I expect us to bounce around up there a little bit still.”
While Agho was pleased with her team’s ranking, she had decidedly mixed feelings about the performance against Mountain View on Sep. 19. The Cougars needed four sets to put down a feisty Lions team that kept Niwot off balance defensively.
“We didn’t play up to our caliber tonight,” Agho said following the 25-11, 25-22, 24-26, 25-23 match. “We weren’t on our game, our defense was lacking, our passing was lacking, our energy wasn’t there, and we were super lethargic.”
That wasn’t much in evidence in the opening set, which Niwot won in impressive fashion 25-11. Mountain View regrouped for the second set, staying right on Niwot’s heels, but eventually fell 25-22. The Cougars jumped out to a 13-4 lead in the third set, but Mountain View took advantage of unforced errors by a sloppy Niwot squad, and battled back to win, 26-24.
The Cougars found themselves on the comeback trail in the fourth set. Down 11-16 after several defensive miscues, an ace by junior Audrey Richard sparked a Cougars’ revival, and Niwot went on to win 25-22.
Agho acknowledged that she was happy to get the win, even if it had been a frustrating game. She said she expects her team’s defensive struggles will work themselves out as the team plays deeper into the season.
“We’ve got to be able to find the balance where we can get hyped for every single game, have the energy on the court for every single game,” she said. “It’s just trying to figure each other out, working well with each other….Obviously in the first year, there are still some tweaks and things I’m working out, also.”
Junior Emma Falk led the Cougars with 14 kills, five blocks and three aces on the night. Senior Mackenzie Fidelak was right behind her with 10 kills, three blocks, and 19 digs. She also had 18 assists, second only to setter Katie Hirsh (30). Sophomore Kate Sebesta, back with the team after sitting out last week with an injury, had eight kills and a block. Richard had seven kills, two aces, and 13 digs, while sophomore Emma Shiers also had seven kills and two aces.
On September 21, the Cougars hosted the Greeley Central Wildcats (2-4), beating them in straight sets 25-11, 25-16, 25-12. Fidelak and Falk combined for 17 kills and four blocks, while junior Zoe Gonzales added another four blocks and four kills. Hirsh had four aces and 20 assists on the night, while Fidelak and Richard each had nine digs apiece.
The Cougars were back in action on September 26 at Centaurus (2-12, 0-6). On September 29, they will face Thompson Valley (5-8, 4-2) for the second time this season.
(9/19) — Niwot 3, Mountain View 1
Cougars (8-1, 5-0) 25 25 24 25
Lions (6-4, 2-3) 11 21 26 22
Kills — Emma Falk 14, Mackenzie Fidelak 10, Kate Sebesta 8, Emma Shiers 7, Audrey Richard 7, Zoe Gonzales 5
Blocks — Emma Falk 5, Mackenzie Fidelak 3, Zoe Gonzales 2, Kate Sebesta 1, Audrey Richard 1
Digs — Mackenzie Fidelak 19, Rachel Priola 15, Audrey Richard 13, Emma Shiers 7, Kate Hirsh 5, Kate Sebesta 4, Emma Falk 3, Zoe Gonzales 1, Maraya Haynes 1
Aces — Emma Falk 3, Audrey Richard 2, Emma Shiers 2, Mackenzie Fidelak 1, Kate Hirsh 1, Rachel Priola 1, Kate Sebesta 1
(9/21) — Niwot 3, Greeley Central 0
Wildcats (2-4, 2-4) 11 16 12
Cougars (7-1, 4-0) 25 25 25
Kills — Mackenzie Fidelak 9, Emma Falk 8, Audrey Richard 8, Emma Shiers 5, Zoe Gonzales 4, Kate Sebesta 2
Blocks — Zoe Gonzales 4, Emma Falk 2, Mackenzie Fidelak 2, Audrey Richard 1
Digs — Mackenzie Fidelak 9, Audrey Richard 9, Maraya Haynes 6, Emma Falk 5, Emma Shiers 3, Katie Pearson 3, Kate Sebesta 3, Zoe Gonzales 1, Katie Hirsh 1, Rachel Priola 1
Aces — Kate Hirsh 3, Emma Falk 2, Audrey Richard 2, Maraya Haynes 1, Mackenzie Fidelak 1, Kate Sebesta 1, Emma Shiers 1