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CSCS lives up to its legacy with 3-1 volleyball victory over Manitou
Inside the Colorado Springs Christian School field house the legacy of the Lions' volleyball team is plastered on the walls. Posters and banners honoring past state champions look over the court as the CSCS squad takes on its opponents.
At times it can be intimidating admitted senior co-captain Taylor Stephens, but on Tuesday all members of the CSCS faithful, past and present, would be impressed with the Lions’ 3-1 victory over Manitou Springs (5-4, 4-1) in a matchup of the top teams in the 3A Tri-Peaks West division.
“Huge game for us tonight,” Stephens said. “We were so pumped up for this game to show we’re still as good as people remember us. People kind of didn’t expect as much this year from us so it’s been our goal to show we still got this.”
CSCS (7-3, 5-0), ranked No. 3 in the Denver Post 3A coaches poll, opened up a 2-0 lead after 25-19 and 25-22 victories before the Mustangs stormed back to take Game 3 25-21 led by the freshman duo of Nicole Mack and Katie McKiel.
“I knew they were going to be tough,” CSCS coach Jennifer Evans said. “I knew they were going to be a struggle.”
McKiel (11 kills) and Mack (10) seemed to be gaining more and more confidence as the night went on, as was senior Ali Thompson (four blocks). An overall theme for all of the Mustangs, coach Carol Benedict said.
“They (Manitou Springs) know that they have the talent, but it’s just believing they can play with teams like this because they have not in the past,” said the first-year coach. “We have great senior leadership and two freshmen who can put the ball down. So if they just put that all together and start playing, they will be a force.”
Yet the Lions, who have nine upperclassmen on their roster of 11, showed veteran poise in Game 4 racing out to a 13-2 lead and never looking back in a 25-16 victory. One minute it was Stephens with a kill, then it was Morgan Evans with an ace or fellow senior Jessica Koch with a kill.
Koch (15), Stephens (12) and Evans (5) combined for 32 kills in the victory.
“I’ve got seniors that are probably the strongest leaders I can ask for,” Jennifer Evans said. “They pull through when it’s time to get kills and when it’s time to be aggressive, they do it.”
Morgan Evans reeled off eight straight points during Game 1 and said the Lions were extremely focused on the Mustangs.
“We knew they were going to be really good this year, especially after their win over TCA,” Evans said. “We’ve just been preparing really hard. I’m really proud of our girls. We came out really strong tonight.”
The seniors are the lone remnants from the Lions’ 2009 state championship, the last of six in a row, winning it during their freshmen years. Morgan Evans says the Lions’ state semifinal loss to Valley in 2010 still motivates CSCS.
“We don’t want to feel that way again,” Evans said. “We want to go to state and be successful.”
“We don’t want it to be the first year we don’t go to state and don’t be successful. You just look up at the pictures up there,” added Stephens as she glanced at the banners. “We have to keep the legacy going.”