COLORADO SPRINGS — October 26, 2013 doesn't ring any bells to Cheyenne Mountain volleyball coach David Barkley. He had to be reminded that it was the date of Lewis-Palmer's last in-state loss and that it happened on the Indians' floor.
But that date doesn't matter anymore. He can replace it with Oct. 22, 2015. That's the date that the Indians beat the Class 4A top-ranked Rangers 3-1 (25-23, 25-19, 23-25, 25-23) to win the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference.
"I know I sound like a broken record, but there is no team that we have more love for and more respect for than Lewis-Palmer," Barkley said. "They are well-coached, those are great kids, but tonight I think home court advantage helped us."
And that's no exaggeration. If there was one thing that plagued the Rangers (19-3 overall, 6-1 4A PPAC) through the match, it was the ball being redirected by the ceiling in Cheyenne Mountain's gym. The Indians were able to take advantage and thanks to clutch kills by Casey Ahrendsen, they took the first set 25-23.
"We actually train with drills, balls off the ceiling," Barkley said. "It becomes a home court advantage. That won't happen at the Coliseum."
Instead the Indians (16-1, 7-0) will have to rely on distributing the ball to their hitters, which also became a big a factor in the match. In the second set, Ahrendsen, Grace Wilder, Bethany Cullity and Elizabeth Wayne all got involved with the offense.
A Wayne block followed a Cheyenne Mountain serve that was out of bounds, but hit Elaine Thibadeau in the leg put the Indians up 23-17. They won the set 25-19 to take a 2-0 lead, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
"I think we really just had that drive in us," Ahrendsen said. "We wouldn't stop no matter what was going to occur and I think that drive helped push us through the match and we won."
The Indians rode their momentum early in the third set and jumped out to a 16-7 lead, thanks in big part to Ellie Gubser both finishing her hits and blocking the Lewis-Palmer attack.
But when trailing 21-13, the Rangers decided enough is enough. They were able to finally set their block, something they had struggled with the entire match. They went on a 12-2 run to close out the third set with a 25-23 win.
"It wasn't really until about the middle of that third set that we really started executing what we needed to do," Rangers coach Susan Odenbaugh said. "That a critical thing in terms of getting that block set properly."
But the Indians were not going to be denied the match. Thanks again to a balanced offensive attack in the fourth set, they took it 25-23, ending the match on an ace from libero Mika Dickson. And now the Indians are faced with a burden that could stay with them until the state tournament in November.
After beating the Rangers, are the Indians the favorite to walk away as the 4A state champion?
"It'll probably help our seed," Barkley said. "It does not make us the front-runner. Lewis-Palmer is still the champion. Hopefully we'll play another match like this and get the chance."