If this was the nonconference, just think of what is still to come this season.

With a crowd more reminiscent of a basketball game than a volleyball match, Lewis-Palmer came from one game down at Rampart to win 22-25, 25-17, 25-21, 27-25 – fighting off a triple-game point before closing out the match.

“Win or lose, that was a fun match to play,” Rangers coach Susan Odenbaugh said Tuesday. “There were a lot of intense moments.”

As impressive as the action was on the floor – and it was impressive, with Lewis-Palmer super-sophomore Alexa Smith again filling the stat sheet with 17 kills, 18 digs and four blocks – it was the crowd and noise that set this match apart. Teams often schedule the preseason to gain experiences they can't simulate in practice that will help down the road, and this was the perfect example.

“This was like the postseason in the preseason,” Smith said.

Among the Lewis-Palmer fans who made the trip from Monument were basketball standouts Jordan Scott and Justin Smith – Alexa’s brother. They knew the benefits of crowd support on their run to a 4A title this past winter and seem ready to return the favor as the volleyball team sets out on what might be a similar quest this season.

“You hate to say it, but our girls play to the crowd,” Odenbaugh said. “They always have that expression in basketball that the crowd is the sixth man; I guess in volleyball it’s the seventh man. It really helps us.

 “We already have good school spirit, and that’s a great way to start the school year off.”

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The volleyball wasn’t so bad, either.

Having already swept a Pueblo West team that went 20-2 last season, the Rangers stepped up in classification to face a 5A Rampart squad that went 14-8 last year.

The Rams also also benefited from a crowd larger than the contingent from Lewis-Palmer.

“It was a great game. That’s the way volleyball is supposed to be played,” Rampart coach Nancy Pellow said. “It just gives the kids a lot of experience. We’re basically starting four sophomores. To let them get out there and play the caliber of a Lewis-Palmer, it’s nothing but fun.”

Seniro Breanna Bliss led Rampart with 15 kills, while Kimmy Kirk had 21 digs and August Raskie provided 30 assists.

Smith drew raves from both coaches – “You just try to get her in positions that she’s not used to and hope she makes a mistake. They’re rare, but that’s just what you have to do,” Pellow said – but Lewis-Palmer was far from a one-man show.

Cat Svendson had 16 digs and Mickey Moss, playing her second match after missing her entire junior season, had 11 assists and seven kills.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud to be a Ranger,” Moss said. “This year is blowing my mind, to be honest. Our fans are amazing. I love this team. We can come back. I just can’t wait to see what happens next.”