Prior to Friday's volleyball match between Paonia and Meeker, neither team had lost a league game. Meeker had dropped only four sets and was on a seven-game winning streak that began after its Sept. 15 loss to Paonia.
The Lady Cowboys were seeking vindication on their home court.
But after a slow start by the offense and a first-set 25-16 loss, the Lady Eagles got to work, winning the final three sets, 25-20, 25-18, 25-15. They sit alone at the top of the 2A Western Slope conference heading into the final week of regulation play.
"Meeker was a good win," said Coach Krista Carsten. "We struggled a little offensively the first two sets but finally settled in in games three and four."
Meeker's strong blocking frustrated Paonia's hitters early on, said Carsten. But on this team, everyone is a hitter. Paonia stepped up the pace and continued its attacks. "They couldn't shut down all the hitters," said Carsten. Paonia carried out 157 attacks, resulting in 15 kills for Ce'rra Carsten and 45 team kills. Middle hitter Abby Campbell "started pounding the ball out of the middle and got some key kills in the third and fourth games," said Carsten. And Easton Hartigan, who recorded seven kills, "had one of the hardest back row attacks I have ever seen."
Carson Pipher had a great all-around game, said Carsten. The junior recorded 12 digs and scored eight kills in 28 attacks. "She was crushing the ball down the line," said Carsten.
Defensively, Ce Carsten led the team in digs with 19, with Taylor Carsten and Abby Campbell each contributing 14. Of the 67 serves received, Paonia recorded four errors.
Taylor Carsten, the lone freshman on the team, recorded eight of the team's 15 serving aces, giving Paonia points when they really needed them, said Coach Carsten.
There were some stressful moments, resulting in a yellow card for Carsten, the second of her coaching career, half-way through the second set. "But it sure sparked the girls and fired them up to play harder," she added.
The Lady Eagles are now 16-1 overall and wrap up regulation play on the road. They face Plateau Valley (5-9, 2-5, 1A WSL) Thursday and Rangely (9-5, 6-3) Saturday. All eight Western Slope teams will compete in the District 5 tournament on Oct. 26-27, at West Grand High School in Kremmling.
The top three teams will advance to regional competition.