NIWOT — Niwot volleyball coach Daisha Agho challenged her team to come out with intensity — a confident, not cocky attitude.
"I was impressed with their intensity tonight," Agho said. "Their intensity on Tuesday, we talked about them needing to improve on that because we didn't come out as fired up as we needed to. I was really impressed with the way the girls handled themselves tonight.
"Being confident not cocky. We talked about the difference between that."
No. 6 Niwot met the challenge as the Cougars swept No. 8 Silver Creek 25-17, 25-23, 25-16.
"Come out and be as aggresssive as we could," Fidelak said about the gameplan. "One of our main struggles is that sometimes we come out kind of timid. We were talking about it in the locker room, saying to come out and be aggressive and fight as hard as we can for every point."
Niwot came out hot on an 11-4 run to start the match with kills from Stanford commit Mackenzie Fidelak, Emma Falk and Audrey Richard. Katie Hirsh started the first set with an ace.
"We really did do a good job of coming out and playing aggressive right off the bat," Fidelak said. "I'm really proud of everyone for doing that, because it's something that we haven't really done before. It's a really good step."
Fidelak had her team fired up and never let off the gas pedal.
"I didn't have to say much," Agho said. "Mackenzie Fidelak did most of the talking. It was all very encouraging. I'm impressed with her leadership when it comes to getting the team to rise to an occasion. She sets that standard and shows them how to do it."
The second set was really the only time Niwot was challenged, but the Cougars took the tight set 25-23. Silver Creek went on a 6-0 run to take a 13-11 lead.
Niwot battled back to even the set at 16, then a pivotal rally was decided by another booming Fidelak kill.
"I think it's always good to have tight sets like that because it proves that you have a fight and that you care about winning those sets," Fidelak said. "They're hard. You have to really fight for every point and play with a lot of mental toughness. It's always more fun to win a close game."
Silver Creek's Rylee Anderson was at the forefront of Agho's mind in gameplanning. Anderson had 36 kills and a 56.3 kill percentage coming into the match.
"We knew Rylee would be tough for them on the outside," Agho said. "She's always a strength for them. We needed to be able to shut her down and try to keep them out of a system as much as we could. Our serves needed to be on point tonight, and they were.
"Trying to take (Anderson) out of system and trying to keep them on their heels so we could have a chance to put a ball down."
Niwot rode the momentum from taking the second set to jump out to a 10-3 lead, and an eventual 25-16 win.
"It's one of those things where you're not breathing on the bench the entire match, then finally you can breathe out," Agho said. "I can't be more proud of these girls for coming out the way they did. Having a change is hard, me coming in new to the season, new to the team. They have responded very, very well."
The Cougars start the season with two league wins and sit on top of 4A's Northern League with Mountain View and Longmont.
"It's awesome," Fidelak said. "It's better than I could have expected, so I'm excited."