MONUMENT — A lot has changed since 2012. But one thing that has remained the same since late September of that year was the number of home losses that Lewis-Palmer volleyball had suffered.
That number sat at zero.
Tuesday night, Sept. 4, 2018 that number finally changed.
In a highly-anticipated matchup of the top teams in Class 5A and 4A, it was 5A's top-ranked Chaparral that came away with a 25-22, 16-25, 25-22, 25-22 four-set win over defending 4A state champion L-P.
It was the first home loss for the Rangers since Doherty beat them in four sets on Sept. 20, 2012.
“That feels good," Chaparral coach Amanda West said. "They played really well and earned their points and I’m proud of them for doing that.”
From the start, the match looked every bit the part of how it was billed on paper. These were two top teams, loaded with collegiate volleyball talent, each looking to stake a claim as the top squad in the state.
The aura that surrounds the Rangers (1-1 overall) is felt throughout the state. They've claimed four of the last five 4A titles and have made their way into the MaxPreps national rankings on a regular basis.
When the Wolverines (7-1) came away with a 25-22 win in the first set, the entire mentality of the match seemed to change, at least on the visiting bench.
There was no intimidation. There was only belief. Unforced errors, however, allowed L-P to control the second set and even up the match.
“They realized they could actually do this," West said. "Then you get a little tense and start playing not to lose. I think we overcame that hurdle in the second set and played a little more loose in the third and fourth.”
And that was really the key. Chaparral just had to relax.
“We had to take a deep breath," junior middle Julianna Dalton said. "Both sides knew there were a lot of talent on both teams so it becomes a mental game from that point on. We had to come out with the same energy we did in the first set and show them what Chap volleyball is all about.”
Dalton totaled six blocks in the match, doing her best all night to counter the attack of the Rangers' hard-hitting duo of Taylor Buckley and Trinity Jackson. Those two combined for 24 of the team's 37 total kills.
Dalton's team-leading six blocks played just enough of a role to disrupt the L-P attack. She matched her blocks with six kills, but it was senior hitter Kira Thomsen who paced the Wolverines offensively with 12 kills.
Chaparral won a see-saw battle in the third set, a set where they trailed by as many as five, before controlling the majority of the fourth set. Chaparral knew coming right off the court that they had just knocked off arguably the best overall team in the state the last two years.
“They’re a good team no matter what," Dalton said. "Their title being 4A doesn’t matter at all for them. They’re a really great team and I’m happy we won.”
It was just the second match of the year for the Rangers, but they know that regardless of how many times they've stepped on the court and regardless of who they are facing off with, they will consistently have a target on their backs.
"We knew it would be that way," L-P coach Wade Baxter said. "We knew Chap was young and returning a lot of people from last year and so were we. We lost a few key passers which makes a difference. I don’t know. It could’ve made a difference. A little difference is all that matters.”
Next up for the Wolverines is another Pikes Peak Athletic Conference opponent. THey'll play host to Cheyenne Mountain on Thursday while the Rangers look to start a new home winning streak when they take on Grandview.