4A VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW – WEEK 3

For the third consecutive week, Lewis Palmer tops the 4A rankings.  The Rangers have dropped just one set so far and coming off another title at their own tournament last week, have a week off before hosting Rampart next Tuesday.
The Rangers handled Cherokee Trail in three sets earlier this week running their record to 8-0.  McKenna Sciacco handed out 30 assists and the Rangers received strong defensive play from Kessandra Krutsinger with seven blocks and 18 digs from Gianna Bartalo.
Lurking down the road is a match with #5 Valor Christian on Thursday the 21st.
Keeping pace with Lewis Palmer is 2nd ranked Holy Family.  The Tigers suffered back-to-back losses to 5A opponents at the Regis Tournament but has strung together three consecutive conference wins since.  The Tigers held Berthoud, Roosevelt and Erie to under 20 points in each sell until they were pushed in the final set with Erie.
Senior Sara Berghoff led Holy Family with 26 assists and Sophomore Payton Frank had 21 diggs.  The Tigers stay in conference play on Thursday against Frederick and then step away to host Fort Morgan Friday.
Pueblo West bumped up to third this week as Cheyenne Mountain dropped four spots to seventh.  The Cyclones came up short against the host Rangers in the Lewis Palmer tournament championship match.  The Cyclones next step on the court Thursday against Woodland Park.
#4 Niwot is another team that suffered a setback to Lewis Palmer at Saturday’s tournament.  Despite that loss, the Cougars improved two spots in the rankings and hold down the fourth position this week.  Emma Faulk served up nine aces in a win over Northridge on Thursday.  Mackenzie Fidelak and Katie Hirsh each dished up 16 assists and Fidelak led the way up front with eight kills.
A rivalry game is set for Thursday as the Cougars take on Longmont.  The Trojans have not played the same level of competition when compared to Niwot but enters the match with a perfect 8-0 mark.  They’re also 3-0 in conference including a solid four-set win over Mountain View earlier this week.  Senior Rachel Kusbel powered down 19 kills and five others had at least seven in the balanced attack.
Per usual, Valor Christian (#5) is spending much of September playing up against 5A competition.  Last week the Eagles were knocked out by Fruita Monument but on Tuesday handed Highlands Ranch their first loss of the season.  It wasn’t easy as the last two sets were decided by two points including a 28-26 win in set four.
Lily Thomason (12), Ashley Larson (11) and Anna Davis (10) share responsibilities at the net and combined for 33 kills.  Maddie Allen (26) and Caroline Reinkensmeyer (20) did the same at setting and totaled 46 assists.
The rugged schedule continues over the next several days.  Valor lines up against Mullen on Thursday and then is tested next week against Thomas Jefferson and top ranked Lewis Palmer.
T-J made the biggest move in the rankings this week as they climbed from tenth to sixth.  The ranking was almost short-lived but the Spartans rallied from a 2-1 deficit to stun 5A Smoky Hill in five sets Tuesday night.  Bella Williams led the team with 24 kills and seven digs.  The win pushed the Spartans to 7-2 going into Thursday’s match with Green Mountain.
With limited matches against a brutal list of opponents, Cheyenne Mountain (0-2) has found the early going difficult.  The Indians have failed to take set in losses to 5A powers Rock Canyon and Chaparral thus far.  And the schedule doesn’t taper off.  The Indians this week take part in the Eaglecrest Invitational which always features a talented field of teams from the largest three classes.
Air Academy is in the ranking at #8 this week but the Kadets have already suffered two losses so the stay is likely one week only.  Both losses were against 5A teams in the Colorado Springs region as they fell to Doherty on Tuesday and Coronado on Wednesday.  Sydney Barnes, with 50 kills on the season, is the team leader in that category and combined for 10 in two matches this week.
The Kadets now have a short break as they won’t return to the court until next Tuesday against Ralston Valley, a third consecutive 5A opponent.
Glenwood Springs and Ponderosa are the two remaining newcomers to the poll this week entering at numbers nine and ten.  The Demons (7-0) are one of five remaining unbeaten teams in the division and have dropped just one set the entire season.  Glenwood gets into conference play Thursday against Rifle and continue for a big test with Eagle Valley coming up on the 30th.
Ponderosa’s record (4-4) continues to deceive as all but one of their matches have come against 5A or out-of-state opponents.  That will carry weight in the first RPI standings which will be released next Tuesday.  The Mustangs have not played since falling to Cherry Creek in three sets on the 7th but the inactivity ends Thursday at home against ThunderRidge.  It’s the first conference match in the Continental.
 

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