Coal Ridge outlasts Basalt in volleyball thriller
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PEACH VALLEY, Colorado – After watching a 2-0 lead disappear in a Friday loss to Cedaredge, Coal Ridge volleyball coach Scott Black did his best to communicate to his Titans that volleyball matches are best-of-five affairs.
Message received. Sort of.
Coal Ridge flirted with danger once again on Tuesday, this time against visiting Basalt. Building a two-game advantage, the Titans appeared on pace for an easy win. Just like on Friday.
Unlike on Friday, though, Game 5 went Coal Ridge’s way.
“I was trying to impress on them it takes three to win the match, not two,” a relieved Black said after his team’s 25-17, 25-12, 19-25, 23-25, 15-12 win over the Longhorns. “We just had that meltdown on Friday where we won the first two and then went on vacation.”
Christa Currier’s 14 kills paced the Titans, who returned from their mental vacation just in time to squeeze out the win this time.
Zoe Reece contributed 12 kills for Coal Ridge. Rececca Mitchell and Jessica West bashed nine apiece and Chasity Gonzales finished with 40 assists in the marathon match, which began with a pair of lopsided game wins for the hosts.
Basalt bounced back to dominate the third game, jumping ahead by taking four of the first five points. The lead never dipped below two from there on out.
The Longhorns fought through 14 tie counts to pull away in the waning stages of Game 4. An Annie Wells serve that Coal Ridge couldn’t handle and a net violation by the Titans gave the Longhorns the two points they needed to wriggle free of a 23-all tie.
“We could have had them,” Titans libero Kathleen Maldonado said. “We just got a little bit down.”
With a crowd that roared with every volley serving as a backdrop, the fifth game proved every bit as intense as its predecessor.
Coal Ridge stormed out to a 4-1 lead, one that Basalt quickly erased by putting the next four points on the board. Five tie counts followed before the Titans seized control.
With the score knotted at 12, Currier belted a kill that a diving Abby Norton couldn’t dig. A pair of Basalt errors followed and Coal Ridge had its seventh win in 13 3A Western Slope League matches.
“I think we worked as a team,” said Maldonado, whose Titans are now 7-7 overall. “There’s no I in volleyball. Everyone works together as one.”
The Longhorns, who were led by Norton’s seven kills, dropped to 6-8 in league play and to 7-8 overall. Chantri Knotts finished with six kills and Emily Timroth and Wells slammed five apiece.
“They did come back,” Basalt coach Mike Whittlef said. “They weren’t afraid to play. They just had to get their heads in it. Once they do, they play hard.”
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The Glenwood Springs-Rifle sports rivalry goes way back for GSHS baseball coach and former Demons multi-sport student-athlete Eric Nieslanik.