A nice mix of crucial early season conference matches and attractive non-league battles highlight the 4A volleyball schedule for the week.  And the top two teams in the division get to face off with powers from the 5A division.
For #1 Lewis Palmer and #2 Ponderosa, playing the best from Class 5A is not new and both programs have been involved in such scheduling for years.  The Rangers always take on the best from the big school ranks to prep for the post-season and to gain national attention while Ponderosa must always deal with being the lone 4A team in a loaded Continental conference.
This week, Lewis Palmer hosts Cherokee Trail on Tuesday for their lone match of the week.  Ponderosa opens their rugged league slate against #1 Chaparral on Tuesday and then #10 Rock Canyon two nights later.
After falling to Chaparral last week and suffering their first loss in three years, Lewis Palmer bounced back nicely to sweep Grandview and then pick up four wins at their own tournament.  Included in that run was a nice 2-0 sweep of Niwot in the tournament finals.  The Cougars are ranked 4th in Class 4A this week but the Rangers doubled up in kills (25-12) and picked up six apiece from Riley Putnicki, Taylor Buckley and Trinity Jackson.  Those three also combined for 27 kills in the loss to Chaparral.
The loss to Chaparral was far from one-sided.  The teams actually totaled the exact number of points overall as Lewis Palmer won game two by nine points and Chaparral the remaining three by three points apiece.
Cherokee Trail’s lone loss is also against Chaparral and they had a very similar outcome.  Their match was also decided by four sets but the overall point total was almost exact.  Cherokee Trail took set two by seven points and dropped the other three by a combined nine points.
Since that loss, the 2nd ranked Cougars (5A) have put together six straight wins including quality victories against Ponderosa, Holy Family, Castle View and Fort Collins.  Sami Campion, with 84 kills, is the top hitter for Cherokee Trail.  She’s followed by Amaya Messier (66) and Savannah Spitzer (56).  Sydney Cole has 254 assists overall including 46 vs Chaparral and 48 vs Ponderosa.
Ponderosa was unranked in the pre-season but has spent the past month climbing all the way into the second slot this week.  Staying there may be difficult this week as they face two of the pre-season picks to win the Continental crown.
Since the Cherokee Trail loss, Pondo has strung together five straight wins and on the season beaten the likes of Cherry Creek, Grandview and Air Academy.  Six hitters have produced at least 24 kills; a list led by Jordyn Miller (65) and Taylor Wiebold (45).  The Mustangs have 55 aces through nine matches with Abbey Telesz (18) and Ashley Daigh (14) leading the charge.  Telesz also has a team best 150 assists.
First up this week is Chaparral and the Wolverines are ranked #1 in Class 5A.  Their win at Lewis Palmer was the first at home for the Rangers since 2012.  They followed up with a 3-0 sweep of Cheyenne Mountain.  Their only loss is against #3 Fort Collins.
Rock Canyon is just 2-4 but stayed in the 5A Top 10 because of scheduling.  Three of those losses are against ranked opponents Fort Collins, Valor Christian and Holy Family.  They feature four hitters with at least 29 kills.  Sophia Sobota is tops with 75 and Laryssa Myers has 48.  Abi Leitner has added 41.
Niwot and Silver Creek are both part of an early three-way tie for the Northern conference lead.  Longmont, which moved into the rankings at #7, is the third league unbeaten but the teams have combined for just five wins so it’s still very early.
League wins for both Silver Creek and Niwot have come against Northridge and Centaurus.  Emma Falk has a combined 25 kills in the two wins and led Niwot in both matches.  Falk added seven aces against Centaurus and Zoe Gonzales provided 13 kills vs Northridge.  Madison Schroeder tossed about a combined 61 assists.
Silver Creek is getting strong play at the net from Caitlyn Volkmann.  She powered down 24 kills against Northridge and 18 against Centaurus.  Freshman Megan Sotiroff added 15 kills vs Northridge.  Emily Church led in assists with 46 against Northridge and Olivia Nelsen took top honors with 29 vs Centaurus.
Mead and Frederick are both riding freshman on their way to a combined 13-1 start.  Now the two teams enter play in the Tri Valley against one another and each hopes they can challenge traditional powers Holy Family, Windsor, Erie and Berthoud for an upper division finish.
Frederick (8-0) won just nine matches a year ago so a win over Mead on Tuesday matches their win total from 2017.  A big reason for the improvement is the arrival of Kinley Lindhardt.  She leads the Warriors with 57 kills and 70 diggs.  Gillian Ridgley (39) and Leilani Purcell (35) provide hitting depth while Ridgley (66) is also second in assists to Jose Reveille (88).
Mead dropped a match to 2A power Denver Christian at the Glenwood Springs tournament but has won all five of their remaining matches.  Included on the list is a quality five-set win over Longmont in their season opener.  Freshman Quincy Cole led the way with 25 kills in that win and easily tops the Mavericks on the season with 78.  No other player has more than 36.  Hailee Martinez leads the club with 169 assists.
There’s also a good match of early unbeatens on the Western Slope Tuesday night as Battle Mountain goes to Palisade.  Both teams are 1-0 and tied with Summit for the early lead.  Battle Mountain also faces Summit on Thursday so two wins gives the Huskies the top spot by themselves.
The Huskies lone win came against Glenwood Springs behind 16 kills from Lillian Benway and eight from Tatum Huffman.  Carly Post led four players in double figures with 13 diggs and Ava Spangler dished out 27 assists.  Palisade upset Eagle Valley in five sets on the road and it was a tight match with the first three sets going into extra points.
Outside the Top 10 is an interesting Colorado Springs battle between Cheyenne Mountain and Coronado on Thursday.  Coronado (2-6) needs to rebound from a 1-3 showing at the Silver Creek tournament last Saturday while Cheyenne Mountain simply needs to see court time.  They’ve played just three matches to date (1-2) but gets back on the court Tuesday against Pueblo County before facing the Cougars.  They get busy this Saturday at the Eaglecrest Tournament.
#3 Holy Family (4-3) has just one match this week but they dip into the 3A ranks against a very good University club.  The Tigers have played just one match since September 1st and they came up short to Valor Christian (3-0).
#5 Discovery Canyon (7-1) looks to continue their climb to the top of the rankings.  They’ve won seven straight since a 3-0 loss to Erie to open up 2018.  They go to D’Evelyn on Tuesday in what could prove to be a tight match.  The Thunder don’t begin league play until September 27th against Palmer Ridge.
The Bears are ranked 6th this week (5-2) and they will stay in the city to face Palmer on Tuesday and Rampart on Thursday.  They’ll be favored in both.
As mentioned, Longmont is in the poll at #7 this week.  The Trojans (6-1) are 2-0 in Northern league play and should gain two more league victories against Greeley Central and Northridge.  Both matches are away from home and the Trojans must avoid looking ahead to their first meeting with Silver Creek on the 18th.
#8 Erie (6-2) has just one match on tap this week.  They go to 3A Prospect Ridge on Tuesday and will then spend the rest of the week prepping for Tri Valley league play.  It opens on the 18th against Roosevelt.
#9 Evergreen (5-3) is coming off a tough loss to 5A Rangeview at the Thomas Jefferson tournament.  The Cougars got by both Middle Park and Thomas Jefferson earlier in the event but couldn’t get out of the Metro area without a loss.  They open Jeffco league action against Wheat Ridge and Golden this Tuesday and Thursday.
#10 Air Academy (3-3) has won three of four since opening with back-to-back losses against Pine Creek and Fort Collins.  They are 1-1 against 4A opponents with a win over Thomas Jefferson and a loss to Ponderosa.  Up this week are matches with three city rivals; Classica Academy is up first on Tuesday followed by Liberty (Thursday) and Rampart (Saturday).