Paonia outside hitter Carson Pipher prepares for a kill shot during Saturday’s 3-1 win over Meeker. Pipher, a five-foot-five junior, has played varsity volleyball since her freshman year but is having her best season yet in terms of consistency.
At 9-0, Paonia remains the only undefeated team in 2A Western Slope League volleyball after posting another four convincing wins last week.
The team doesn't have a lot of height, and they are starting a freshman and two sophomores.
Their bench is, thus far, only two players deep. One of the reasons for their early-season success is consistency. And that is one of many strengths that Carson Pipher, the team's only junior, brings to the team this season.
"The last couple of years I've been inconsistent with my hitting," said Pipher, an athletic 5-foot-5 outside hitter who made the varsity squad her freshman year. "I'm starting to get more consistent. That's good. And the team is doing well, so that's all that matters, really."
The Lady Eagles also debuted at No. 10 in Colorado Prep's state rankings. They are the only Western Slope team currently among the top 10 teams, although Rangely (5-1 overall, 2-0 WSL) is among the teams to watch. Paonia will host the Lady Panthers on Sept. 28, as part of their Homecoming Week celebration.
Paonia opened the week with a 3-0 win over Norwood (1-2, 0-1, 1A San Juan League). The Mavericks are ranked seventh in state 1A competition and put up a good fight against Paonia. After a 25-16 win in game one, Norwood took game two to extra points, with Paonia pulling out a 27-25 win. Paonia wrapped up the match with a 25-22 game three win. Ce'rra Carsten led the team in kills with 15, with Pipher contributing 21 of the team's 118 attacks.
Abby Campbell, Ce'rra Carston and Easton Hartigan each recorded more than 10 digs.
Paonia played four sets to win its league opener Friday at Vail Mountain (2-2, 1-1). "We should have beat them in three," said Pipher, calling it a "pretty tough" match. Errors in game three pushed the match to a fourth game.
Paonia hosted a triangular with Meeker and West Grand Saturday. Meeker opened with a 25-18 win in game one, but Paonia scored 30 kills and nine serving aces to win the match in four. Taylor Plymale came off the bench to contribute nine of the team's 65 digs.
Meeker threatened again late in game four when Pipher fired up the team and the crowd with a well-placed kill shot to the back corner. "That was fun," said Pipher of the kill. "That's why you play the game."
Against West Grand, the Mustangs were leading 19-9 in game two when Taylor Carsten started serving. The two teams battled through several long volleys, but Carsten got the ball over the net 16 times to give the Lady Eagles a 25-19 win. Carsten had a total of seven aces for the night.
Paonia hosts North Park this Friday and travels to Soroco Saturday. They're a young team, said Pipher, but they're very supportive of each other. "And that's important that we keep that going and not fall apart," said Pipher. "As long as we can do that, we can do good."