AURORA | It has taken the Cherokee Trail girls volleyball team a bit of time to find its stride.
Consider it completely found after the Cougars’ performance Tuesday night.
Beset by injuries as it tried to form chemistry with nearly an entire new varsity team under new head coach Harry Hendon, Cherokee Trail put all the pieces together with rousing three-set sweep of previously undefeated and Class 5A top-ranked Cherry Creek.
Putting an exclamation mark on their Senior Night celebration, the Cougars came through in the key moments of all three sets on their way to a 25-23, 25-22, 26-24 victory that was sealed by a kill from senior Jayden Ponsford.
Tied at 24-24 in the third set, junior Kaci Young set up a match point for Cherokee Trail (9-6 overall, when her attack went off the Bruins’ combo block of seniors Kaegan Wherry and 6-foot-7 Carter Booth and landed out of bounds.
Booth’s tip attempt on the next point was dug by junior Zoe Ackerman and sophomore Emily Schwab set the ball to the outside to Ponsford, who put a shot off the fingers of Cherry Creek blocker Anna Van Wyk to score the winning point.
The Bruins (17-1) — who had lost only five total sets out of 52 played coming into the match — dropped into a tie for first place atop the Centennial League standings with Grandview with one match left on the league slate for each team, however Cherry Creek owns the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Cherokee Trail — which delivered the biggest win for Hendon, who took over for original coach Terry Miller, who retired following the spring season — moved into a tie with Eaglecrest at 4-2 in league play. The Raptors edged the Cougars in five sets Sept. 30.
The final league standings will determine the matchups for the three-match Centennial League tournament to conclude the regular season.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports