In battle of defending volleyball state champs, Lewis-Palmer comes out on top over Eaton

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Photo - Lewis-Palmer's Riley Putnicki sends a kill over the net as two Eaton players try to defend the net. The Rangers claimed a 3-0 win over the Reds on Saturday in Monument.
Lewis-Palmer's Riley Putnicki sends a kill over the net as two Eaton players try to defend the net. The Rangers claimed a 3-0 win over the Reds on Saturday in Monument.

MONUMENT - State titles weren’t on the line, but that didn’t matter to the 4A Lewis-Palmer and 3A Eaton volleyball teams.

On Saturday afternoon, two defending state champions faced off in a nonconference match that both knew meant a little something more: The meeting provided a glimpse of how they stack up so far against high-caliber teams.

“It was going to be the ultimate test,” Lewis-Palmer coach Wade Baxter said.

And they played like it. Focused and determined to make another state title run, the Rangers pulled off a three-set victory (28-26, 25-18, 25-19) at home in a sometimes back-and-forth match against the Reds. It was the Rangers’ 40th consecutive win, dating back to last season when Lewis-Palmer capped it off by beating Holy Family of Broomfield in the Class 4A final for its third state championship in four years.

Four-time 3A defending champion Eaton suffered its first loss this season and dropped to 10-1, while the Rangers improved to 11-0 ahead of its nonconference match against Pine Creek on Tuesday and its 4A/5A Pikes Peak Athletics Conference opener against Palmer Ridge on Thursday.

The Rangers were down by four points midway through the first set. But after a timeout, they went on a 10-3 rally to take a 17-14 lead thanks to kills by Trinity Jackson, McKenna Sciacca and Kessandra Krutsinger. Despite trailing 25-24 late, Lewis-Palmer managed to close out the set with a 4-1 rally for a 28-26 win.

“Even though we were down, it didn’t feel like we were down,” said Sciacca, who led the team in aces and assists with five and 36, respectively. “It felt like we were right there with them.”

From there, it was all Rangers.

Lewis-Palmer took an early 9-5 edge in the second set and never looked back. In the third and final set, Eaton tied it up at 9-9 but the Rangers went on to score seven straight points to take control of the match.

Jackson led the Rangers with eight kills, followed by seven apiece from Adelaide Feek, Riley Putnicki and Jadie DeLange, while Krutsinger finished with four blocks.

“We knew it was going to take our best effort to beat them,” Baxter said . “They’re the real deal in 3A. You don’t win as much as they have without being really, really good.”