The play of the Littleton High School volleyball team gave its fans a lot to cheer about even though the Lions lost the Oct. 15 match to Regis, 3-0.
“We are a good team even though we haven't won many matches. We have talented players who battle hard on every play. Despite the fact we play solid games, wins have been hard to come by,” Lions coach Margaret Whalen said before the Oct. 15 game. “This is a tough league and we are one of the smallest schools in the league, playing against teams from schools twice our size. We ignore that, and I am proud of our team because, while we haven't won many matches, our team has played hard and been close in just about every game this season.”
The Lions and prep volleyball are in the home stretch of the season. Littleton closed out the regular schedule Oct. 17 at Castle View, then will close out the season by hosting a tournament Oct. 25 and 26. So far, the teams coming to the tournament are Fairview, Fruita, Montbello and Poudre, with expectations more teams will sign up before the bracket is finalized. The first round will begin at 4 p.m. Oct. 25 and the Oct. 26 action will begin at 8 a.m. with all matches played at Littleton High School, 199 E. Littleton Blvd.
Judging by statistics, the Oct. 15 Littleton-Regis match appeared to be one-sided, since the Lions are 4-13 on the season and Regis is 15-2 overall and atop the league with a 9-0 record.
But the play in the Lions-Raiders match didn't reflect the difference in season won-loss records. The home fans cheered loud as Lions players blocked Raider kill attempts, made digs by diving to keep the play going by preventing the ball from hitting the floor, or slammed spikes across the net to score points.
A team wins a game by scoring 25 points, but must win by two points. A match can go to five games, but the first team to win three games wins the match.
In the first game, the Lions built an early lead, but Regis tied the score at 23-23. The seesaw battle continued with teams exchanging points until the Raiders finally won 28-26.
The Raiders took an early lead in the second game and, despite a determined Lions comeback effort, won the game, 25-18.
The third game was another hard-fought battle. Like in the other two games, there was great play on both sides of the net and every point was hotly contested. The score was tied 16-16 when Regis edged ahead and won the deciding game, 25-22.
“This is kind of how the season has gone. We played hard, we worked hard but just couldn't get those points needed to win,” the coach said after the game.
She said the strength of her team is the senior leadership and the ability to control the ball when it is on the Lions' side of the net.
She said her senior leaders include Sami Wong, Natasha Habert, Sela Tharan and Emily Gramer. Since Oct. 15 was senior night, the four players were honored before the match as they were crowned with pink tiaras, given blow-up volleyballs with their names on them and gift bags.
Tharan, a recognized team leader, said after the match that it has been a fun but difficult season because the Lions haven't won a lot of games.
“We don't have a lot of wins but I am very proud of our team,” she said. “Everyone has worked very hard to get better and we have come a long way toward being the volleyball team we want to be.”
Tharan said she started playing volleyball in the first grade and it quickly became her favorite sport.
“I think my strength as a player is my passion for the game and my leadership by example,” she said. “People have told me they haven't seen a player get after the game like I do. I guess that is because I love volleyball so much and it shows in how I play the game.”
She said there is so much to love about the sport that inspires her passion, like the fun of making a perfect set, diving to dig a hard hit up before it hits the floor and making a block against another team's attempt to drive the ball and score a point.
The senior said she would love to play college volleyball, but is still undecided where she wants to go to continue her education and hopefully continue her volleyball career.