Losers Win and Winners Lose: How Niwot Volleyball Was Robbed of a State Title

Ryan Gray, Reporter

The Niwot volleyball team entered the state tournament with high hopes. They were coming off a wildly successful regional tournament and an even better season. According to Max-Preps, the girls had gone 25-4 in the season and 13-0 within their league. As a regular spectator of Niwot volleyball, it is an understatement to say they were more than prepared for the competition at state. 


The Cougars started out the tournament playing a familiar face: Berthoud. Niwot proceeded to beat them as if it was no problem in an easy 3-0 win. Next up came Windsor, who seemed daunting as they were a 3 seed and Niwot 6; but yet again Niwot came out with a 3-0 win. Continuing on at a swift rate, the Cougars took down #2 Cheyenne Mountain in yet another 3-0 sweep. As the possibility of a state championship began to feel real, it was time to play #4 Thompson Valley – a team that not only had already lost this tournament, but had also already lost to Niwot (3-2) during the regular season. The Cougars battled it out, but unfortunately lost to Thompson Valley 3-2. 


Competing for the state championship became a battle between Cheyenne Mountain and Thompson Valley. Oddly enough, both of these teams had already lost once before in this very tournament. Thompson Valley had even lost before they had played Niwot, and Cheyenne Mountain had even lost to Niwot 3-0 not a 24 hours prior . Many CHSAA state tournaments are played in a single-elimination style, meaning that once a team loses for the first time the highest place they could get is usually third. This tournament style makes complete sense: why would a team that has lost still be able to get first place? Even though single-elimination seems to be CHSAA’s preferred style, they went a different direction for this volleyball season, which allowed for two losing teams to compete in the championship game. 


This system was frustrating to many players in Colorado Springs that weekend, but it especially hit home for the girls on the Niwot team. When Junior Paige Demosthenes was asked about this unjust tournament style she said, “It was really frustrating to see two teams that were swept during the elite eight round end up being in the finals, especially since we hadn’t dropped a set throughout the whole tournament”. 


Eventually anger over the events at state turned to disappointment. There was no doubt that the team had done exceptionally well, topping the season off with a 3rd place finish. Even still, seeing a team they had beaten 3-0 win state runner-up (Cheyenne Mountain) was yet another crushing blow. Junior Grace Demmel puts it perfectly: “I have never seen us fight that hard for anything in our entire lives and I think that is why it was so heartbreaking to lose that match. It was hard to see Cheyenne Mountain, a team we had previously beat in 3 sets, win the title of runner up”. 


With the loss of two starting seniors, Zoe Gibbs and Morgan Dougherty, and head coach Daisha Agho, the future has been left uncertain for the remainder of the Cougar team. However, while they didn’t win the state title they did finish third in the state and have 8 returning varsity players. The famed Broadmoor Events Center has hosted some of the world’s greatest athletes, and Niwot’s volleyball team has been no exception. With determination and a positive spirit, this season has been a precursor for what is to come from the sleeping bear, or Cougar if I may, that is Niwot Volleyball.