No. 6 Lamar girls volleyball thrives on power from the front row

(Dan Mohrmann/

COLORADO SPRINGS — In some ways, Abby Robbins has the easiest job in the Tri-Peaks League. The Lamar setter has her choice of weapons to feed and the results are usually exactly what everyone is hoping for.

Both Fernanda Merancio and Sydney Dunning provide the volleyball equivalent of a long touchdown pass or a second-deck home run.

They're hitters in every sense of the word.

"When our team is on, it's hard to defend," Merancio said. "When Abby gets us a perfect set, it's almost unstoppable."

That was certainly the case as Lamar, the Class 3A No. 6-ranked girls volleyball team, took down league foe No. 9 Colorado Springs Christian School 25-9, 25-8, 25-21 on Thursday night.

The win came the same way all of them have this year, big hits and overall great production from the front row. It's a combination that could serve Lamar (6-0 overall, 6-0 Tri-Peaks) well when the postseason rolls around.

"It's nice to have one of the two of them in the front row the whole time," coach Dave Tecklenburg said.

Heading into Thursday's contest, the duo had combined for 130 kills on the year. The team as a whole had 170. The Lamar volleyball team has yet to drop a set all year before the CSCS match, 45 percent of the team's points had come from kills.

(Dan Mohrmann/

And these aren't cross-court attempts aimed avoiding an attempted double block. These are precise, savage attacks coming from either Merancio or Dunning's right arm.

"When my team gets a perfect pass and our setter, Abby Robbins puts me or Fernanda in position, it's a done deal," Dunning said. "We will put it down 100 percent."

It's a formula that has made the team look strong through the first half of the season. In half of their wins so far this season, Lamar has held teams to single digits in two of the three sets. They're doing everything that would normally draw the attention of onlookers from outside the southeast corner of the state, but with Lutheran and Eaton seemingly back on the rise, Tecklenburg is happy to keep a low profile.

"I don't want to be known," he says. "When you are, everyone scouts you more and prepares for you more. The less people know about you the better."

Dunning and Merancio are a secret that can't be kept forever, especially when the aftershocks of their kills are strong enough to be felt on the Front Range.

Lamar is eying a league championship in its short-term future but also has an eye on the ultimate prize. The girls want to win a state championship.

"We're setting boundaries," Dunning said. "We want to win league first and we want to take everything one step at a time."

They're aware that of all the state championships in Lamar's storied athletic history, a volleyball crown is noticeably absent. This team wants to be the first to bring a title home.

And the plan to do it is to swing for the fences.

(Dan Mohrmann/