COLORADO SPRINGS — Even if it doesn't seem like it, a lot can be learned from a three-set in volleyball. And with Class 5A No. 2 Chaparral apparently finding its groove in the 2019 season, the Wolverines still learned plenty in their 25-18, 25-20, 25-22 against 4A No. 4 Cheyenne Mountain.
And by no means was the trip down to Colorado Springs a waste. With the win over Cheyenne Mountain, the Wolverines (7-2 overall) have done what very few teams have been able to do since 2008. They grabbed wins over Lewis-Palmer and Cheyenne Mountain in the same week.
Putting tough 4A teams on the schedule is very beneficial to coach Amadana West who likes the limited times they can see those team and how the diversity in competition forces her team to try different things on the court.
"It helps us to play them but not have to play them again in the season," West said. "(Teams like) Legend we'll have to see again. Some of the teams we see early we'll see again which we don't love. And (these 4A teams) bring a great competitive nature. They keep the ball off the floor and challenge us in different ways."
And in some ways the 4A teams can surprise themselves. Chaparral rosters four players who stand over six feet tall. And at times, Cheyenne Mountain (2-1) didn't shy away from the tall outside hitters. Players like Jackie Martensen and Emma Elich had no problem trying to block attempts from the Chaparral side of the net and more times than it would seem to be logical, they succeeded.
"It only makes us better," Cheyenne Mountain coach Gail Sanchez said. "My goal tonight was to give every player on my team playing time because I knew it was going to be a tough match."
The Indians battled and even led much of the way through the first set before the Wolverines clawed their way back.
In the second set, Chap jumped out to a big lead, but Cheyenne Mountain was able to mount a rally, but ultimately fell short. The story was a bit of the same in third set, but down big the Cheyenne Mountain rally cut the lead to 24-22 before the Wolverines put it away.
"In my time here, this was the best we've ever played Chaparral," Sanchez said.
Even coming away with a 3-0 win, the Wolverines will get better by playing Cheyenne Mountain the way Cheyenne Mountain will be better facing the 2018 state runner-up.
"A lot of the teams in our league are similar to them," Chaparral hitter Emma Ammerman said. "It's nice to get into (non-league play) and play some super tough teams that are tougher but also scrappy."
Chaparral now jumps into the meat of its league schedule and hopes that the improved play since the start of the season translates into the success that barely eluded them a year ago.
"We play to win every game and that's our hope," West said. "Last year we dropped one set in league so we didn't see a challenge throughout the middle of the year."
She hopes that changes this year and she hopes that the Wolverines translate those challenges into a 5A state title.