Volleyball: Niwot fends off Thompson Valley for 8th straight conference win
October 5, 2017
When these two teams met back on Sept. 5, Niwot dispatched then-winless Thompson Valley without much trouble, downing the Eagles in three quick sets 25-20, 25-15, 25-19. But a much different Thompson Valley team took the court last Thursday night, and it would take some late heroics from the Cougars’ big hitters to put the Eagles away this time.
“Thompson Valley has improved a lot,” said Niwot head coach Daisha Agho following the hard-fought 25-12, 15-25, 26-24, 25-19 victory. “I knew they were going to fire up. They always play well at home.”
Since the early season loss to Niwot, Thompson Valley has won seven out of 11 games, with victories over Broomfield, Mountain View, and Longmont. Since Sept. 9, the Eagles have lost only once, to Silver Creek on Sept. 19th.
“Thompson Valley’s coach gets the girls going for every match,” she continued. “They’ve been playing well….They’re five and two in conference, they’re right there behind us, so we can’t take them lightly by any means.”
The Cougars may have been lulled into a false sense of security by the Eagles’ tepid play in the first set. Led by senior Mackenzie Fidelak’s six kills, Niwot blew past a sluggish Thompson Valley, winning 25-12. Juniors Emma Falk and Zoe Gonzales combined for five kills, and sophomore Kate Sebesta chipped in with two more.
After the easy win, the Cougars seemed unprepared for the invigorated Thompson Valley team that took the court for the second set. The Eagles took control at the net early on, and kept the Niwot defense out of position. Taking advantage of Niwot miscues on serve receipt and miscommunication between the front and back rows, Thompson Valley cruised to easy 25-15 win to even the match at 1-1.
“That set was mainly just our unforced errors and we kept making mistakes,” junior outside hitter Audrey Richard said following the match. Richard ended the night with nine kills, 12 digs, and three aces. “Thompson Valley did a really good job of having energy and intensity during the game.”
Agho agreed with Richard, and added that there was a lesson to be learned in the setback. “It’s good to take a loss every once in awhile. It humbles you, it lets you know that you still have some work to do.”
With momentum firmly on their side and the Niwot defense still reeling, the Eagles seemed poised to take the third set as well, until Falk came through with four clutch kills over the last eight points to seal a 26-24 win for the Cougars. In the fourth set, the Eagles kept the score close early on, but Falk, Fidelak and Gonzales dashed their hopes with a combined seven kills, two blocks and an ace. Gonzales also had several key blocks, and Richard’s ninth kill of the night on the final point put the Eagles down for good 25-19.
“In the third set, I was really impressed with them being able to pull that back out, sticking with it,” Agho said. “We’ve talked a lot about that and being able to pull out those tough ones. It’s just that mentality that you’re going to fight for every single ball. You’re not going to lay off and be scared, you’re going to be aggressive towards it every single time.”
Fidelak came up big for the Cougars again, with 14 kills, 10 digs, and 18 assists. Falk was right behind her with 13 kills, four blocks and three aces. In a solid offensive performance, Gonzales had seven kills, and three blocks. Sebesta and sophomore teammate Emma Shiers had three kills and an ace apiece, with Shiers adding three blocks.
While Agho was happy with the win, she still sees room for improvement.
“We have to get better at passing,” she said. “I’m hoping the girls can figure out the communication piece and the serve receipt. We’ve got to be able to push those balls back up and get the middles involved even more. Emma and Zoe did a wonderful job tonight trying to at least keep us in the game, trying to stay involved as much as they could with the passing that we had, so kudos to them for being able to step up and take on the leadership role too.”
The win over Thompson Valley was the second for the Cougars last week. On Tuesday, Niwot beat the Centaurus Warriors in three quick sets, 25-17, 25-8, 25-16,
Shiers had seven kills and five aces on the night, while Falk and Fidelak combined for ten kills and four blocks. Richard had a team-best 11 kills on the night, and she also had an ace.
With the wins, the Cougars improved to 11-1 on the season, and 8-0 in the Northern League. In the most recent CHSAA weekly poll, Niwot was ranked second in Class 4A, behind defending state champion Lewis Palmer. They are also second in the most recent 4A RPI rankings.
“I think it’s well deserved but we still have to keep our heads on straight and take care of business,” Agho said of the recognition her team is getting. “There are a lot of tough games ahead, and we can’t let this distract us, by any means.”
The Cougars go back on the road against Silver Creek on Oct. 3, then return home for the rematch against Northridge on Oct. 5.
(9/26) — Niwot 3, Centaurus 0
Cougars (10-1, 7-0) 25 25 25
Warriors (2-13, 0-7) 17 8 16
Kills — Audrey Richard 11, Emma Shiers 7, Emma Falk 5, Mackenzie Fidelak 5, Zoe Gonzales 4, Kate Sebesta 4, Katie Pearson 1
Blocks — Emma Falk 3, Mackenzie Fidelak 1, Zoe Gonzales 1, Emma Shiers 1
Digs — Rachel Priola 4, Mackenzie Fidelak 3, Kate Hirsh 3, Emma Shiers 2, Emma Falk 1, Maraya Haynes 1, Audrey Richard 1
Aces — Emma Shiers 5, Emma Falk 1, Mackenzie Fidelak 1, Kate Hirsh 1, Rachel Priola 1, Audrey Richard 1
(9/28) — Niwot 3, Thompson Valley 1
Cougars (11-1, 8-0) 25 15 26 25
Eagles (7-9, 5-3) 12 25 24 19
Kills — Mackenzie Fidelak 14, Emma Falk 13, Audrey Richard 9, Zoe Gonzales 7, Emma Shiers 3, Kate Sebesta 3
Blocks — Emma Falk 4, Zoe Gonzales 3, Emma Shiers 3, Audrey Richard 2, Mackenzie Fidelak 1, Kate Sebesta 1
Digs — Rachel Priola 19, Audrey Richard 12, Mackenzie Fidelak 10, Emma Falk 8, Kate Hirsh 6, Kate Sebesta 3, Madison Schoeder 2, Emma Shiers 2, Zoe Gonzales 1, Maraya Haynes 1
Aces — Audrey Richard 3, Emma Falk 2, Mackenzie Fidelak 1, Kate Sebesta 1, Emma Shiers 1