Titans win third consecutive regional title | PostIndependent.com

Titans win third consecutive regional title

The Coal Ridge Titans girls volleyball team stayed hot Saturday, sweeping the St. Mary’s Academy Wildcats, 26-24, 25-15 and 25-14, before sweeping the La Junta Tigers, 25-22, 25-21, 25-20 to win their third straight regional title — the first such title under head coach Aimee Gerber.

With the two sweeps in regionals, the Titans have run their streak to nine straight sweeps (27 consecutive set wins) and 16 straight wins overall.

“I just think the team believes in themselves,” Gerber said following the win over La Junta. “The teamwork is the main ingredient. One might have a really good game, but they all rely on each other to have everything work; they’re very unselfish and never take it for themselves, so it’s just fun to coach them. I don’t know what else to say at this point.”

Now that the Titans have won their third consecutive regional title, they are heading back to the state tournament, where they’ll look to win a game for the first time in the last three years.

With the way they’re rolling, Coal Ridge is set up for quite the run.

Against the Wildcats in the first match of the day from Coal Ridge High School, the Titans and Wildcats played a back-and-forth first set thanks to the towering matchup at the net between Titans middle hitter Kaitlyn Detlefsen and St. Mary’s Academy’s Caroline Jeffords.

It was Detlefsen who got the best of the Wildcats, coming up with big kills and timely blocks to swing momentum towards the Titans.

After a long serve by Titans junior outside hitter Nicole Mooney allowed the Wildcats to tie the set at 25-25, Titans middle hitter Kaitlyn Harlow sealed the win for Coal Ridge with a big block at the net and then followed the block up with an ace to give the Titans the 26-24 win.

From there, the Titans handled the Wildcats with ease as Detlefsen, Mooney and Harlow proved to be too much to handle at the net for St. Mary’s Academy, while Dana Kotz, Santana Martinez and Emily Wright came up with timely digs to lead Coal Ridge defensively.

Mooney capped off the second-set win with a booming kill from the left side, and Martinez sealed the third-set win with a serving ace to finish off the impressive sweep.

In the three-set win over the Wildcats, Detlefsen finished with 13 kills, seven blocks and two aces. Mooney chipped in with eight kills, four blocks and four aces, while Dana Kotz added 24 assists, and three kills.

Santana Martinez came up with 10 digs and three aces, and Harlow added five kills and three blocks.

With roughly two hours off until their next match, the Titans sat around and watched the La Junta Tigers manhandle the Wildcats, setting up a regional title game showdown.

Much like they have all year, the Titans were ready for this one.

Thanks to four kills from Detlefsen and a kill from Kara Morgan, the Titans stormed out to a 6-3 lead in the first set against the Tigers.

After a kill from Mooney, the Tigers called a timeout to try and slow the Titans run.

Following the timeout, the Tigers went on a run of their own, eventually tying the set at 13-13, before taking a 16-13 lead thanks to a net violation on the Titans.

That’s when the Titans began to turn things around, thanks to Harlow, who recorded four straight deflections or full-out blocks before coming up with a kill to win the point for the Titans. After Harlow’s terrific individual effort, the Titans appeared to feed off of it and rallied all the way back to win the first set on a kill by Kotz, an ace by Harlow and a kill by Detlefsen to seal the 25-22 first-set win.

Without Harlow’s individual effort midway through the set, who knows how the first set turns out. Luckily for the Titans, she was on their side and came up big.

“I would say that’s one of her [Harlow’s] best performances,” Gerber said. “She’s doing phenomenal,and she knows that going into the playoffs that we need another key hitter in the middle, because that’s where we control the net. She did what she needed to do today.”

Building off of the first-set win, the Titans again jumped out to an early lead, this time an 8-4 advantage thanks to an ace from Martinez, a kill from Detlefsen and a kill by Harlow.

But much like the first set, the Tigers battled back to tie the game at 10-all. From there, the Titans defense stepped up in a big way to keep the Titans alive while they looked for offense.

That offense came in the form of Kotz, who saw an opening in the middle of the court for the Tigers. She routinely took advantage of the space, dropping two key balls into the open area for big points to lead the Titans to the big second-set win, 25-20, putting Coal Ridge one win away from their third consecutive regional title.

“They [La Junta] were really good at defense, but I noticed that they were going all out for the hits,” Kotz said. “So, I just went for the opening. Luckily it worked out multiple times for us.”

In the third set, the Titans held the lead throughout, building leads of 10-7 on a kill by Mooney and 17-13 on an ace by Martinez. However, the play of the set came a point later when La Junta’s Kayci Bender hit a booming shot over the net that bounced off of Kotz’s head and went straight up into the air. Wright was able to keep it alive for Coal Ridge, allowing Mooney to cap off the huge play with a booming kill, deflating the morale of the Tigers in the final set.

Following the huge play by the Titans, Kotz and Harlow combined for a big block at the net, leading to a Tigers timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, Kotz came up with another great play near the net, dropping the ball in for a big point, and Detlefsen sealed the sweep with two huge kills, giving the Titans their third consecutive regional title.

“I don’t know what to say right now, I’m just so excited to be going back to the state playoffs,” Detlefsen said moments after her winning kill. “I just couldn’t believe the last one [kill] came on a tip. This is my last time playing in this gym and it kind of all hit me at once, but I’m just so proud of this team.”

Against the Tigers, Detlefsen finished with 15 kills and five blocks, while Mooney added 12 kills, five digs and three aces.

Kotz chipped in with 10 kills, 33 assists and eight digs, and Martinez added six digs and four aces.

The Titans will now have a full week to get healthy and ready to go to Denver for the state tournament.

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