MONUMENT - There were a lot of firsts at the Sept. 27 volleyball game between Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge.
It was the first time the cross town rivals had ever met on the court. It was the Class 4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference opener for both teams. And it also marked the season debut of Lewis-Palmer’s UCLA-bound middle blocker Claire Felix.
“It was so much fun,” said the 6-foot-6 Felix, who helped the Rangers to a three-game sweep of cross town rival Palmer Ridge. “I felt like I was in rhythm, but it’s different playing in a game when you’ve only played with your teammates in practice.”
Lewis-Palmer (9-3, 1-0) swept the match in three games by scores of 25-14, 25-16 and 25-15. Palmer Ridge (5-4, 0-1) led early in each game, but eventually was overwhelmed by to the Rangers’ height.
It was understandable if Felix was a little rusty. After all, she sat out the Rangers’ first 11 matches of the season due to the CHSAA transfer rule (she previously played for The Classical Academy).
Her teammates can also be forgiven if a few if the timing was off.
“I have to get my passes a little higher,” said Rangers 6-1 senior outside hitter/setter Mickey Moss. “We work together pretty well in practice, but with the all the excitement of the game, things were a little different.”
Felix’s 10 kills were second on the team behind super sophomore’s Alexa Smith’s 13. The 6-1 Moss and 5-8 springy sophomore Nicole Montgomery were next with seven.
Felix was also impressive with her serves, helping the Rangers win seven consecutive points in Game 1. She had three digs and one block.
“It was important to get that first league win,” Lewis-Palmer coach Susan Odenbaugh said. “Tonight with Claire in there it was like starting a whole new season. We’re dealing with new chemistry.”
Smith, who also added a game-high 20 digs, conceded it was different having Felix on the court in a game.
“But it was so much fun,” she said. “We’ve been waiting so long. It felt great.”
The atmosphere was electric at “The Cave” as host Palmer Ridge tried to neutralize Lewis-Palmer’s distinct size advantage with quick ball movement. The Bears’ biggest players were 5-11 junior middle blocker Sierra Parker and 5-10 sophomore outside hitter Colleen Dockins.
“We were really pumped,” said Dockins, who leads the team in kills. “We knew it would be tough. We tried to move the ball around be quick with our passes.”
Palmer Ridge coach Tracy Lee was proud of her team.
“I thought we did pretty well considering how big they are,” Lee said. “I feel like we played our best game all year.
“Claire is tough. She’s a great player. But I think Alexa is the best player on their team.”
Bears junior libero Elle Sample enjoyed the challenge of playing against one of the state’s top teams.
“The fun part is getting low and getting the balls and rolling afterwards,” Sample said.
“There were some things we could have done better tonight. We didn’t keep up the intensity and when our serve receive faded and we started missing passes.”