The Cougars will have to wait a few more weeks for their next chance to avenge last year’s heartbreaking playoff loss to the Holy Family Tigers. In five riveting sets, Ali Travis and the Tigers clawed their way back from a 0-2 deficit to hand the Cougars their third loss of the season 25-23, 25-23, 15-25, 17-25, 15-17.

The Cougars started strong and took the first two sets on the strength of their blocks, led by juniors Emma Falk and Zoe Gonzales, who ended the night with eight apiece. Senior Julia Stephenson also had a big night up front, with five blocks, while Mackenzie Fidelak had three.

Holy Family stormed back in the third set, and a clearly flustered Niwot was doomed by unforced errors down the stretch. With the wind in their sails, the Tigers took the fourth set easily as well.

Though momentum seemed to be on Holy Family’s side, the Cougars kept the score close in the fifth set, with key points from Falk, Gonzales, and Fidelak, who had four of her 15 kills on the night. Unfortunately, the Tigers took advantage of one error too many by Niwot, and won the final set 17-15.

“We really persevered after every point,” said sophomore Emma Shiers following the hard-fought match. Shiers had a season-high eight kills as well as eight digs and two blocks. “I don’t think we were outplayed, I think it was just a really good competition.”

Niwot head coach Daisha Agho echoed her outside hitter’s sentiments but was disappointed with her team’s inability to adjust to Holy Family’s attack.

“I’m glad to see we can still play at this caliber even though we’re a little banged up,” she said. Junior Audrey Richard is still getting back up to speed after sitting out last week with an injured shoulder, while Madison Schroeder is still out with an ankle injury, but will rejoin the team at this weekend’s Ponderosa tournament. “Defensively, I thought we could be a bit more disciplined. There should not be a reason that team gets that many kills in that one spot on us over and over again.”

Gonzales and Falk had ended the night with a combined 17 kills, while Richard had eight kills and seven digs. Junior Katie Hirsh had 31 assists, while Katie Pearson led the team with nine digs. Senior Rachel Priola had her first kill of the year in the fourth set, and also had eight digs.

Niwot wraps up the regular season in Parker next weekend at the Ponderosa Mustang Classic tournament on Oct. 27-28.

(10/23) — Holy Family 3, Niwot 2

Cougars (15-3, 13-1) 25 25 15 17 15

Tigers (19-2, 14-0) 23 23 25 25 17

Kills — Mackenzie Fidelak 15, Emma Falk 11, Zoe Gonzales 8, Audrey Richard 8, Emma Shiers 8, Rachel Priola

Blocks — Zoe Gonzales 8, Emma Falk 8, Julia Stephenson 5, Mackenzie Fidelak 3, Emma Shiers 2

Digs — Katie Hirsh 9, Katie Pearson 9, Mackenzie Fidelak 8, Rachel Priola 8, Emma Shiers 8, Audrey Richard 7, Emma Falk 4, Julia Stephenson 3

Aces — Emma Falk 1