LITTLETON — Dakota Ridge volleyball coach Nikki Kneuer admits its not always “pretty” but so far this season her squad is perfect.
The Eagles improved to 3-0 Wednesday night with a 3-1 victory over Broomfield in a non-league match. Dakota Ridge failed to sweep for the first time this season, but the 25-19, 25-27, 28-26, 25-20 scores pleased the Dakota Ridge graduate who is in her ninth season coaching her alma mater.
“One of the good things tonight was we got challenged,” Kneuer said. “Broomfield really pushed them hard. Losing that second game was a reality check for them.”
Broomfield rallied from a 20-13 deficit in the second game to even up the match 1-1. It looked like the visitors would take a 2-1 lead, but Dakota Ridge held off three game points in Game 3. A miss hit by Broomfield eventually gave Dakota Ridge a 28-26 win to take a 2-1 lead.
“We just shook it off and kept pushing every point,” Dakota Ridge senior Morgan Green said of the Eagles refocusing after dropping the second game.
Dakota Ridge closed out the match in style with a nice dig from Green, set from senior Emily Nielsen and kill from senior Lauren Tobey to send the Eagles’ student section home happy.
“We were just super pumped as a team,” Tobey said. “We had a lot of energy and wanted to keep push points. We wanted to win and play fierce.”
Tobey made a huge impact from her middle blocker position, neutralizing Broomfield’s offensive attack. Kneuer has high expectations for Tobey this season.
“Lauren is awesome up there,” Kneuer said of her middle blocker. “She isn’t traditionally a middle, but it’s something we needed this year. She has stepped up to the plate and down a fantastic job. A couple more weeks up there and she will be one of the top middles for sure.”
Dakota Ridge has shown a solid front line with the likes of Tobey, sophomore Brianna Binder, junior Melissa Johns and seniors Tessa Quinter and Taylor Hicken.
Green, a returning Class 5A Jeffco League second-team all-conference selection, is clearly the floor general for Dakota Ridge.
“She (Green) is a captain for a second year in a row,” Kneuer said. “She just runs this team. It’s like having a second coach on the court.”
The Eagles don’t want to get too far ahead of themselves, but they admit they are eyeing contending for a conference title. Dakota Ridge hasn’t won a league volleyball title since 2003.
Chatfield, Lakewood and Ralston Valley have dominated 5A Jeffco over the past decade, but the solid start for Dakota Ridge gives the Eagles hope they could make their mark this season.
“Every year we talk about it,” Kneuer said of winning a league title. “The girls know we have a lot of work to put into it. We’ve never beaten a Chatfield or Lakewood. We’ve taken games away, but this year we are really focusing on taking our game to that next level.”
Dakota Ridge returns to action for another non-league game on its home court Friday, Sept. 8. The Eagles face Douglas County in a scheduled 6:30 p.m. start.
Broomfield (1-2 record) heads to Lewis-Palmer High School for a tournament Saturday, Sept. 9.