Every time Centennial volleyball got back into a set at Sunrise Mountain Oct. 7, it seemed Mustangs senior Lily Setka stepped up to serve and the home team went on a run.
Setka finished the Mustangs' 25-14, 25-21, 25-15 sweep with five aces. Beyond that, she served eight straight Sunrise Mountain points .
She served her fourth ace to tie the second set at 16 and the home team never trailed afterward. Junior libero Sophia Cortesio took up the mantle in the third set with a couple late aces for the win.
"I try to make sure my serves are very consistent but also very hard to pass. I try to hit the zones coach gives me," Setka said.
Sunrise Mountain has only four seniors on its 14-player roster and only played two of those seniors regularly last night.
While the team relies on a freshman, sophomore and junior at or above 6 feet, the 5-8 Setka also is effective in the attack and had seven kills against the Coyotes thanks to that knowledge of the game.
"She's grown so much as a player over the past four years. It being her senior year, she has stepped up as a huge leader. She knows her job is to pick that team up," Sunrise Mountain coach Brandi Jans said. "If we're down she brings them up with her aggressive serves. She knows how to specifically and strategically place the ball on the court, which is amazing. She's such a smart utility player."
Centennial (13-7, 4-2 region) fell behind 8-2 in the opening set before battling back to cut the deficit to 12-11.
Then the bottom dropped out. Led by junior outside hitter Raeli Smith, the Coyotes stayed in it for most of the second set, but gave away too many points.
"Sometimes it seems like we start a little slow and we're always trying to earn those five or six points back," Centennial coach Becca Ellis said. "Tonight was one of those nights. We were always kind of behind the 8 ball. We definitely hurt ourselves in the second set with four missed serves."
As Jans pointed out Sunrise Mountain's team, minus graduated stars and now-NCAA Division I players Adna Mehmedovic and Haven Wray, did not have many early season matches to develop chemistry.
More players are filling in around Setka, junior middle hitter Shelpy Gorospe and sophomore outside hitter Emily Pruitt.
"Right now we're playing catch up. We're trying to grow each day and our October is packed. Not having as many touches hurt us in the beginning," Jans said. "My freshman middle Shelby (Schoenbeck) has stepped up and that is a hard thing to do when you're that young. Leila (Chipepo) our senior right side from last year has drastically improved from last year. I've really enjoyed watching her grow."
This win boosted Sunrise Mountain from #15 to #9 in the 5A volleyball rankings Oct. 8.
Both Jans and Setka sense this group can continue to grow and make a run at a return semifinal appearance.
"We're waiting for that big win. We're a brand new team and haven't played together that much," Setka said.
Centennial dropped from #14 to #15 in the rakings.
The Coyotes' goal for the rest of the season is more consistency, and belief. In the third set Oct. 7 the visitors fell behind 11-3, again battled all the way back o down just 12-11, then gave up six straight points.
"It's not a rotation issue. It seems like we all get affected if one person is off and we're all trying to make up for that person, instead of rallying around them," Ellis said.