GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Scott Black didn’t bat an eye when he made a statement about his Coal Ridge High School volleyball team on Saturday.
“I think that we’re better now,” the Titans coach said, “than we were at the end of last year.”
Coal Ridge, which earned a berth in the Class 3A regionals last season, didn’t slow down against the 16-team field at the Demon Invitational volleyball tournament. The Titans swept its pool-play matchups against Denver Christian, Grand Valley and Rangely, then gutted out a 25-16, 13-25, 16-14 victory over Steamboat Springs in a crossover title match.
“Even if we were to come out losers in a match like this, it’s still a good match to get in, especially early in the season,” Black said. “We needed to see that.
“Winning this tournament wasn’t our main goal this season, but I won’t complain about it,” Black added, smiling.
Host Glenwood Springs also made an unblemished run through its pool play schedule, beating West Grand, Meeker and Rifle. That placed the Demons in the tournament’s other crossover title match against Lutheran, where the Demons fell 25-21, 25-13.
Delaney Gaddis had five kills and eight assists, Taylor Kontour had nine digs and Laura McDermott added a pair of blocks and three kills in the Demons’ lone loss of the tournament.
“It was a good weekend because we learned a lot about ourselves,” Glenwood coach Sarah Ryan said. “And we found out that we need to play with more confidence, going out there and playing with a lot more aggression.”
That wasn’t a problem for Coal Ridge against Steamboat in the first game, but the Sailors’ aggressive play ended up creating some unforced errors for the Titans. Both teams played nearly errorless until the end of the third game, though, when a pair of errors from the Sailors sealed the Titans’ victory.
“We went to a couple of camps over the summer and came away from them playing as many as 40 games,” Black said. “So we learned a lot. There wasn’t a gap there where we didn’t do anything.”
Rifle did quite a bit following a 25-19, 25-8 loss to Glenwood in the tournament opener on Thursday. The Bears rebounded for pool-play victories over West Grand and Meeker, then claimed a 25-22, 21-25, 15-7 victory over Denver Christian in a third-place crossover match.
It was the kind of performance coach Erin Reider was hoping would come from the Bears, who have aspirations of reaching the 3A postseason before they move up to Class 4A next year.
“This is exactly where we’d like to be to start the season,” Reider said.
Roaring Fork, ranked No. 7 in the CHSAAnow.com preseason poll, dropped its two matches on Saturday. After handily defeating Moffat County on Friday, the Rams lost to Steamboat Springs, 25-22, 23-25, 15-13, before falling to Vail Christian in the third-place crossover game, 25-11, 25-22.
“We played together really well as a team against Steamboat, and that was good to see us come together like that,” first-year Rams coach Jenn Dority said. “After we played Vail Christian, I don’t know where that team went. I even told the girls that afterward.”
Against the Sailors, Diana Flores and Rosa Maun each had five kills, Toni Gross chipped in 25 assists and a pair of aces, and Josi Horn added 13 digs. Against Vail Christian, Horn’s seven digs and Maun’s five kills set the pace for the Rams.
Grand Valley dropped its first three matches of the tournament to Denver Christian, Coal Ridge and Rangely and was on pace to lose its seventh-place crossover match against Meeker. The Cardinals prevailed, though, 20-25, 25-21, 15-9, to end the tournament with a victory.
“We knew in those first three matches that we weren’t playing to our potential,” Grand Valley coach David Walck said. “We definitely took a step in the direction we needed to today.”