MONUMENT — Lewis-Palmer head coach Susan Odenbaugh says the last thing her team is thinking about is playing like defending state champions. The play on the court, however, tells a completely different story.
The Rangers played host to Valor Christian Thursday, pitting the top-ranked Rangers against the No. 7 Eagles in a Class 4A top-10 showdown. In a small indication that Lewis-Palmer is more than ready to defend their title, they dominated the Eagles in all three games, blanking them 3-0.
"This team is very talented and we have a lot of depth," Odenbaugh said after the win. "The thing about this team is that they're six competitors out on the court and they are so competitive that none of them want to lose a match and they work as hard as they can, push each other as hard as they can and they know they have to do it as a team."
One of the ways that Odenbaugh makes her team so successful is to stress the importance of not allowing her teams to fall victim to long stings of points by their opponents. Her general belief is that losing three or more points in a row severely limits a team's chances to win a game.
But her offense seems to have no problem putting one together when the team needs it. In game one, the Eagles and Rangers were knotted up at 12 points apiece a 7-1 run gave them a comfortable 19-13 lead. The run started off with the controlling serve of senior outside hitter Alexa Smith.
"The serve is the one thing you can control," the Purdue commit said. "You can get back there, try to get the first one in and try to build momentum after that."
The Rangers took the first game 25-14 after only allowing two points down the stretch for the Eagles. The second game played out much the same way the first game did. The Eagles did a great job of trading points with the Rangers and had the game tied at 8-8 before Lewis-Palmer went on a 6-1 run in the blink of an eye. The Eagles fell in game two by the same score as game one, 25-14.
The Rangers didn't wait to make their run in game three. Before Valor knew what hit them, they were trailing 10-2 en route to a 25-11 final score, giving the overall match to Lewis-Palmer in decisive fashion.
"They're just a good team," Eagles coach Tara Hittle said. "We kind of hit some ruts sometimes where it takes longer than we'd like to side-out. And they're tough. You can't do that against really good teams."
Next up for the Rangers is a three-game run against some of the top 5A teams in Colorado Springs. They lock horns with Coronado and Pine Creek before a highly anticipated match-up against the current No. 1-ranked team in 5A, the Rampart Rams.
The scheduling is very intentional for the Rangers as they look to take on the best competition they can find before they dive into league play and eventually, the state playoffs.
"If you look at our schedule, we've been playing the top 4A and 5A schools and some of the top players," Odenbaugh said. "We want that kind of schedule. Win or lose, we want to be pushed against good because then we know what our weaknesses are and what our strengths are and we can keep working on them."
The Eagles also have three non-league games remaining and will make one more trip to Colorado Springs when they play Air Academy on Sept. 19.