RIVERTON It's a win that doesn't mean much yet. But it was thrilling beyond description to the Riverton volleyball team.
"Are there words?" senior outside hitter Staci Barton asked senior libero Lexi Peck after the Silverwolves swept the Wolverines 25-15, 25-20, 27-25 Tuesday night. Peck's response, "Speechless."
Both players said the fact that the teams were tied for first-place in the Region 3 race combined with the memory of being beaten by Hunter last year on senior night made for an emotional win for Riverton.
"Everything was piled on this game," said Barton, who helped her team to a win with five kills and rock-solid serving that included three aces. Barton stepped up to serve with the match on the line and said she quickly banished any doubts as she launched into her jump serve.
"I just thought to myself, 'This is a player's dream. This is where I want to be'," she said with a grin. "It felt good (to make the serves) because my team can count on me."
The team counted on every player to help out in holding off a talented Hunter squad that made several runs during the match. Peck said the team set a series of goals that started with getting trusting each other. Coach Trudy Pecorelli said the team's chemistry is one of the reasons they're exceeding pre-season expectations after losing nine seniors last year.
"They're playing with confidence now," said Pecorelli, who couldn't stop shaking after the win. "They just needed to get to know each other. They've done a lot to bond, team dinners, get-togethers and I even took them rock climbing. We just do some crazy things."
The Silverwolves extracted a bit of revenge while taking over first place at 6-1, although they acknowledge there are a lot of matches left before region titles are awarded. When asked about how it feels to be leading the region right now, Pecorelli puts her index finger to her lips and whispers, "Shhh! We have Copper Hills on Thursday ... We just can't get too complacent. I'd rather be the silent underdogs than the front-runners. When you're on top, everyone's gunning for you."
But she grins when reminded how good it feels to be there.
The team was led by junior middle hitter Chelsea Sorensen, who earned 12 kills, two of which ended games one and two. Setter Peyton Evans earned 21 assists and Peck led the defense in some great rallies.
"They handled the pressure," Pecorelli said. "They never got into panic mode. They just responded."
Peck said the team believes they are capable of accomplishing something Riverton hasn't done in volleyball since 2000, the first year they were open.
"We are working our way up on our goals," said the senior who just began playing libero this year. "We do have a goal to be region champ, but we're just working on the next match."Added Barton, "But we're not nervous. We're gung-ho!"