Titans sweep their way to first league title
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PEACH VALLEY, Colorado ” The energy was overwhelming at Coal Ridge High School on Saturday afternoon as the Titans’ faithful awaited a highly anticipated match between their undefeated volleyball team and the Gunnison Cowboys with Coal Ridge’s first league title on the line.
Not to mention it was also senior day.
If the junior varsity prelude was any indication, this matchup between the 3A Western Slope League’s top two teams would be a classic.
The entire match between the JV squads was back and forth with incredible momentum swings on both sides. In the end, Gunnison prevailed after mounting a comeback down 14-10 in the third and final game for the three set win.
With that win, the Cowboys wrangled the momentum and bestowed it upon their varsity brethren with hopes of derailing the Titans’ undefeated league season aspirations.
It wasn’t to be.
The Titans feeding off the emotion brought by their hometown fans and senior day, swept past Gunnison in three well-played games (25-15, 25-16, 26-24) and earned their first 3A WSL title in their school’s history.
“It’s huge,” an elated Titans head coach Denise Greene said of earning the school’s first league title. “The girls have put in a lot of hard work over the years. They deserved it and they worked for it so it’s good to see it happen.”
It seemed like it took Gunnison two full games to get themselves together and Coal Ridge took full advantage.
Behind the outstanding net play of seniors Chloe Nelson (11 kills and three blocks), Britney Smith (four kills), Kaitlin Moeller (four kills) and Jessica Needham (five kills) combined with the great serving of Sierra Grove (who had seven aces in the first two games), the Titans rolled through the Cowboys comfortably in the first two games of the match.
To the Gunnison sideline’s great relief, their Cowboys found their stride in game three.
Behind outstanding play from Katie Vader and Lindsay Hart, Gunnison got out to an early 8-4 lead. The Cowboys maintained the advantage all the way until the very end, leading 14-10 then 22-19 as the Titans scratched and clawed their way back.
Each point as the game got closer to the end was played with breathless intensity, each side absolutely unwilling to make a mistake.
The rallies became longer and the crowd quieter as everyone in attendance sat on the edge of their seats taking in the great display of volleyball from the two outstanding teams.
Coal Ridge fought back to tie at 23 all before taking the 24-23 lead. And as the crowd got on its feet and stomped in the stands, Gunnison managed to regain the serve and tie the score at 24. But an unlucky bounce caught the Cowboys off guard and the serve went right back over to the Titans who now had their second game and match point.
This time they wouldn’t let it slip away.
After returning the Titans’ serve, the Cowboys were caught a little out of position on the next big hit from Coal Ridge and the volleyball soared high up into the rafters, ricocheted and came crashing down much to fast and out of the reach for the diving Cowboys.
The crowd erupted and, after shaking the hands of their opponents along the net, the Titans did as well; they had just brought Coal Ridge its first WSL title.
“We took our lumps as freshmen and sophomores,” Greene added when asked about the journey for this team. “It takes a while to build into something, you gotta have experience and you gotta work hard.”
Notes: After falling behind two games to none, Coal Ridge beat Grand Valley in five games in a Friday night league match.
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