Ashley Phelps didn’t know exactly what she was getting into Sept. 23. Cara Walderman knew, and she didn’t want to miss it for the world.
Not Conifer vs. Evergreen. Not the one game all year when the volleyball teams play before a packed house.
Phelps, a junior who missed last year’s tilt because of injury, and Walderman, a senior who was cleared to play minutes before the game, combined with devastating efficiency as the Lobos swept the Cougars in their own house.
“It was so emotional for us in the beginning,” Phelps said. “I guess it’s like this every year … Once we were getting on a roll, our team just pulled it together and pulled out a big win.”
Phelps, who was being watched by a coach from the University of Denver, pounded holes in the floor to the tune of a game-high 16 kills. Walderman, who rolled her ankle the week prior and didn’t think she would play until Sept. 25, came in midway through the first game and finished with 23 assists and two kills.
“We were going to see how it went during warm-ups,” Walderman said. “I wasn’t going to push because I didn’t want to risk an injury, but I really wanted to play this game my senior year.”
Conifer junior Paige Robertson had nine assists and two kills. Junior Lizzie Hammon and senior Kaycee Giroue had seven kills apiece.
“It’s a good game for us, senior year,” said Giroue, who added three blocks.
The emotional side of the 26-24, 25-11, 25-19 Class 4A Jefferson County League victory was won in the first game. The Lobos led most the game, until the Cougars went up 23-22 and 24-23.
Lobos’ coach Kris Nolan called a timeout on both occasions, with the second stoppage doing the trick. The Lobos responded with a kill from Phelps, a block by senior Ahna vonFay and a hit off the Evergreen block by Hammon to win 26-24.
And that was pretty much that. The Lobos swelled with confidence and the Cougars, who were playing without standout Kate Oakes (back), were on their heels throughout the lopsided second game.
“And there was nothing I could do,” Evergreen coach Katie Ryan said of the emotional swing. “I used my whole bench and all my timeouts.”
The Cougars chased Conifer through the third game, but could never catch up. Phelps put an exclamation on the victory by slamming home the match-winning kill off a set from Walderman.
Evergreen senior Luisa LaSalle had an outstanding game, registering eight kills and three blocks. Setter Allison Aafedt had 14 assists and senior Kirsten Brehmer had four kills.