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Niwot falls to Longmont in five-set heartbreaker

 

October 9, 2019 | View PDF

Jocelyn Rowley

The Cougars huddle after losing a point during their 3-2 loss to Longmont on Oct. 1.

Volleyball fans were treated to a free emotional roller coaster ride during Niwot's gripping match against arch-rival Longmont on Oct. 1. After staging an improbable comeback over the Trojans to take the first set 27-25, Niwot held on for a win in the second, (25-23), and seemed to have momentum heading into the third. But their hopes of an easy victory plunged when Longmont staged their own improbable comeback, and rolled to easy victories in the next three sets (21-25, 17-25, 10-15).

"It should have just gone to three," coach Daisha Agho said. "There was no reason to let it go to five. Absolutely no reason at all."

It's hard to pinpoint where exactly it went wrong for Niwot, but signs of trouble emerged in the second half of the third set, which was rife with unforced Cougar errors, particularly on the boundary lines. That continued into the fourth, when it also became clear that Niwot didn't have much of an answer for Trojan serving, and was outscored 18-5. Longmont would go on to post 28 aces in the match, their highest total in years. Then Niwot seemed to completely fall apart in the fifth, and allowed Longmont to build a seven-point lead before finally losing 10-15.

Afterwards, Agho was especially disappointed by her team's struggle with passing and ball handling against the Trojans.

"We were giving them too many overpasses and chances to hit the ball right back at us," she said. "It's little things, but little things add up and become big things in the long run, and we have to be better at them."

It wasn't all doom and gloom for Niwot. Junior Natasha Terekhova had 20 kills on the night, and sophomore Zoe Gibbs had 11 kills and four blocks. The team also had some serving success of its own, especially during the comeback early in the match.

"It's beautiful when we're with it, and when we're moving our feet, and we're doing all the fundamental things of volleyball," Agho said. "They're smart, and they do amazing things, and we get kills left and right, but as soon as things don't go our way, we crumble."

Agho blamed that on a lack of leadership and "mental toughness", which ultimately stems from her team's youth and inexperience That has also been the primary factor in their 5-7 record through 12 games, which has taken a little getting used to after two years of stellar regular and postseason success.

"They haven't had to be in many of these pressure scenarios, or playing under the lights, if you will," the coach said. "It's something they're getting used to, and, unfortunately, we're seeing it in a lot of losses. It has nothing to do with ability on the court, and soon we'll start figuring it out and being stronger on the confidence side and believing in ourselves."

That said, Agho knows her team is capable of playing better right now.

Jocelyn Rowley

Sophomores Zoe Gibbs and Elise Jensen attempt a block in their home match against Longmont on Oct. 1.

"We're making excuses on the court, we're making excuses on the bench, and we're not owning up to mistakes and letting them go," she said. "We have to have someone holding themselves accountable and holding others accountable on the court too, in a manner that's in leadership form. I need people wanting to step up and take control."

10/1- Longmont 3, Niwot 2

Raptors (7-5, 5-2) 25 21 25 25 15 - 3

Cougars (4-7, 4-3) 27 25 21 17 10 - 2

Kills - Natasha Terekhova 20, Zoe Gibbs 11, Mackenzie Demmel 6, Hannah Waldron 5, Elise Jensen 3

Blocks - Zoe Gibbs 4, Mackenzie Demmel 2

Digs - Lola Diasabeygunawardena 12, Abby Kaus 11, Varshini Panuganti 11, Zoe Gibbs 10, Natasha Terekhova 10, Sydney Rothstein 4, Elise Jensen 3, Hannah Perisol 3, Mackenzie Demmel 2, Hannah Waldron 3

Aces - Varshini Panuganti 3, Zoe Gibbs 3, Natasha Terekhova 2, Mackenzie Demmel 1

 

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