Bears overpowered by Devils on Senior Night
Shorthanded and overmatched, the Rifle Bears girls volleyball team didn’t have much to celebrate on Tuesday, outside of the pregame Senior Night ceremony.
Missing a handful of players due to injury, the Bears limped into the showdown with the Eagle Valley Devils, third-ranked in the 4A Western Slope League.
But credit goes to the Bears, who showed no signs of quitting against the Devils despite the advantage in size and power that Eagle Valley held.
That power from the Devils was on display from the start as outside hitters Carlee Morrison and Kylie Martin soared high to rain down kills on the Bears, who tried everything they possibly could to slow down the Devils before ultimately falling in three sets, 11-25, 12-25, 9-25.
In the first set, the Devils wasted no time attacking the Bears, led by Morrison who rattled off three kills in the first five points for Eagle Valley.
After an ace by Devon Green, Morrison and Martin took over.
Following a block at the net by Rifle’s Tara Ruggles and Fabiana Lopez, Eagle Valley’s Haley Collier was able to keep the play alive, which led to another booming spike from Morrison.
Trailing the Devils 10-5, Rifle let the first set slowly slip away.
Martin and Morrison continued to launch shot after shot over the net that the Bears had a hard time dealing with.
Blocking a Bears shot at the net, Martin then turned right around and sent the block back over the net for a deflating kill to give the Devils the set one victory, 25-11.
Set two was much of the same for both sides, and Martin and Morrison again dominated at the net.
Midway through the set with the score Eagle Valley 10, Rifle 5, Morrison rattled off three straight kills, Taylor Sandoval added an ace and Martin added a kill of her own to make it 16-7.
Following a quick timeout by first-year Rifle head coach Kirsten Noska, the Bears returned with a big kill from Lopez to regain some momentum midway through the set.
Closing the gap to 20-12 a bit later in the set, the Bears seemed to have found some footing, but Morrison and Martin effectively put an end to that with an impressive display of power at the net, sealing the second set win, 25-12.
Seemingly broken and beaten down heading into the third set, the Bears wouldn’t go away quietly as Bryce Ettles, Reese Hoffmeister and Ruggles kept the Bears fighting for every point in set three, but they simply couldn’t muster enough to counter the net play of Morrison, Martin and the rest of the Devils.
Holding a 10-4 lead in set three, the Devils went back to the lucrative well of Morrison and Martin as the two combined for five straight points to put the Devils up 15-5.
A kill by Ruggles broke the run of the Devils, but after a long volley from Hoffmeister gave the Devils a 20-9 lead, Eagle Valley could smell blood in the water.
Four straight kills from Morrison and a kill from Cassie Jaramillo sealed the three-set win for the Devils, who picked up their 10th league win of the season.
Despite being shorthanded much of the last few weeks due to injuries, the Bears have continued to fight all season long through a very trying season, which has seen them lose nine straight games, but Noska has the young talent in place to turn things around for a proud program.
Health is a major factor in being able to build a foundation.
With just one game left in the season (at Palisade on Saturday), the Bears look to close out the 2015 season on a positive note.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.