BROOMFIELD — It had all the makings of something really special on Wednesday night.
It was the first game in Holy Family’s brand new auxiliary gym. Everything was shiny and new and what better way to break it in than a sweet victory over vaunted Valor Christian.
And for two games, the stars aligned and the Tigers faithful thought for sure they were about to witness something special.
But the visiting Eagles found their rhythm in sets three and four, rallied to force a fifth and deciding set and eventually posted a 3-2 victory (20-25, 23-25, 25-14, 25-11, 15-11).
“I feel like that’s where some of our youth is going to come out, and not just age, but as we are trying to develop who the leaders are — and hopefully the cream is going to rise to the top — but without that, you are going to see some of that,” said Tigers coach Krista Solomon of the distinct momentum shift from Games 1 and 2 to Game 3.
The Tigers — who are coming off a state semifinals appearance that earned them a preseason No. 2 ranking — drop to 1-5 overall, with four of the five losses coming to some of 5A’s best teams.
That being said, don’t read into the 1-5 record.
“We’ve seen some really good teams so far this season, and what we are trying to do is use them to get better,” said Solomon, whose team will host 3A No. 6 University next Tuesday. “We didn’t finish how we wanted to (tonight), and that fifth set we started to battle a little bit, but in the end there were just too many mistakes.
“But the measure of us will be, not tonight and not the last week, but in a month from now and October and November.”
Everything was clicking for the Tigers in the early going. Defensively they did a great job of limiting the much bigger Eagles big hitters and neutralizing their effectiveness with timely block and quality digs out of the back.
And on the offensive side, Holy Family’s hitters — notably Bianca Eldridge, Rileigh Lynch, Anna Hodell and Makenna Bertsch — were finding the holes int he Valor defense.
Now the key for Solomon and her staff is to keep what is a very talented team upbeat and positive and help them to understand that the 1-5 record is not at all indicative of who they are.
“We really have to manage that and keep kind of speaking life into them, so they can see the big picture and not focus on losses, instead focus on growth,” Solomon said. “That’s kind of what we are trying to do. Relationships and growth are our big priorities right now.”