CLEARMONT — None of the players on the Arvada-Clearmont High School volleyball team have ever beaten Upton. And the streak didn’t end Thursday at ACHS.
The Lady Panthers dropped the first two sets and rallied to force a fifth, but couldn’t complete the comeback. The Lady Bobcats ended up taking the game 3-2 (25-21, 25-23, 19-25, 13-25, 15-5).
AC head coach Sarah Walker’s club didn’t lack confidence, having vaulted to the top of the conference with a pair of 3-0 victories last week. But faced the mental hurdle of trying to topple a team they never had before doomed the Lady Panthers.
“It’s like climbing that mountain, and for whatever reason Upton seems like our mental mountain,” Walker said. “They used to be a 2A school, we’ve never beaten them before, they’re dominant, whatever it is, we just can’t get that mental edge to have confidence to play against them.”
AC didn’t do itself any favors, starting out the game in sluggish fashion, unable to find a rhythm. The Lady Panthers came back and jockeyed closely with Upton during the second set, but couldn’t get over the hump.
The third set marked the first time Thursday that Walker saw the team that earned its top spot within the conference.
“That was the first time tonight that we played our style of volleyball,” Walker said. “We were scrapping. We were playing at the net. We were digging big balls that they were hitting. We were finally clicking with six of us on the court at the same time and sort of figured it out.”
The Lady Panthers kept it rolling into the fourth set; however, couldn’t sustain it in the deciding set.
Both of AC’s conference losses have come at the hands of the Lady Bobcats. The first game in Upton, the Lady Bobcats put the Lady Panthers away in four sets, and while Walker recognizes improvement from the first matchup to the second matchup, she believes her team can simply look in the mirror to realize the ones at fault Thursday.
“We beat ourselves tonight,” Walker said. “It was our mental game. We started out way too slow, and then we went on a run, and we crashed again in the fifth set. I do believe it was the mental side of the game tonight. We just could not get it clicking tonight.”
AC will look to rediscover its form Friday afternoon when it plays host to Ten Sleep in nonconference action.