Air Academy emerging as a key challenger to area's 4A powers

September 19, 2012 Updated: July 3, 2013 at 9:31 am
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Air Academy’s thorough pounding of Liberty on Wednesday backed up everything Kadets coach Toni Schone has been saying about her squad.

“I think this team is the best I’ve had in five years – really well rounded,” said Schone, whose 4A Kadets team handled the 5A Lancers 25-17, 25-16, 25-13. “We have a lot of work to do to get ready for Cheyenne Mountain and (Lewis-Palmer). I respect those coaches and those teams. This is the team that can challenge them.

“If we play the way we did tonight, it can be done.”

Liberty coach Danielle Miller’s take wasn’t so glowing.

“I’m frustrated with my team,” she said firmly. “I feel like we need to come together as a team. I know they’re good enough to go to state and be a contender, but I don’t think they believe it. Right now I got to push them to believe in each other.”

For the Kadets (8-2), senior captain Chelsea Payne led the way with nine kills and 10 digs, while junior Jordan Pingel added eight kills and 15 digs.

The Kadets pride themselves on their defense and passing, as they showed Wednesday, never allowing the Lancers (6-6) to get in a rhythm.

It was a one-sided performance — both coaches knew it.

In addition to Payne and Pingel, freshman Ashley Pagan added seven kills. It’s a deep attack, and one that has Air Academy looking like  a darkhorses in 4A.

At least that’s the hope.

“To get to the next level it’ll take a lot of work,” Payne said. “We’re working every day and we’re excited to play Cheyenne Mountain and L-P.”

But can you beat them?

“Oh yeah I think we can do it,” Payne added. “We’re getting better every day and I definitely think we can do it.”

Air Academy travels to Cheyenne Mountain to play the four-time defending 4A champs on Oct. 2 and then to Lewis-Palmer Oct. 4.

As for Liberty, Miller’s frustrations remain with her team — but the refs aren’t doing anything to help it.

“I just feel like I coach to a high standard in setting and no other team does it – and the refs just let them get away with it,” Miller said, pinpointing that when players are “doubling a ball” (hitting the ball un-simultaneously with both hands), it’s not being called. “I’m not blaming (the loss) on the refs or anything like that, but it seems like every time we play it comes down to a certain amount of things being called.

“I just wish (my team) would play hard enough, where that wouldn’t happen.”


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