Coal Ridge spikers look to finish strong |

Coal Ridge spikers look to finish strong

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent file

PEACH VALLEY, Colorado ” Reaching the top of the 3A Western Slope League didn’t come without struggle and sacrifice for Coal Ridge’s volleyball team.

“It feels like a lot of hard work has paid off,” senior captain Chloe Nelson said. “Our seven seniors have been playing together since the seventh grade. We’ve gone through losing seasons in middle school together. We’ve gone through losing seasons in ninth and 10th grade together. It feels like we did it. We stuck together and won.”

Nelson and her Titan teammates polished off a perfect league season on Saturday, dispatching Gunnison to round out their 3A WSL ledger at 16-0 and their overall record at 17-2.

Such heights might have seemed unimaginable just two years ago when the young school’s volleyball program fielded a senior-less team, one that won just two league matches but was on the brink of something special.

That something special began last year when Coal Ridge, in just its third year of existence, ran off an 18-6 overall record. The Titans finished second in the 3A WSL behind Basalt and just missed out on regionals, losing to Olathe in the district finals.

That’s a fate Coal Ridge hopes to avoid at this year’s district tournament. Last season’s disappointing finish isn’t something the Titans think about that often. Instead, the future takes center stage.

“We try not to think about that,” senior Jessica Needham said. “We try to look ahead. It comes up once in a while. We definitely don’t want to repeat it.”

On Friday, the Titans will have the chance to reverse last year’s happenings.

As league champs, the Titans will have home-court advantage and play host to Roaring Fork, Salida and Classical Academy in a round-robin 3A District 6 tournament from which the two teams with the best record move on to regionals.

“Our next goal is just to keep winning,” Nelson said. “I know the whole town would love us to get to state. Our goal is just to continue to play our best and whatever happens, happens.”

It’s that approach that has already landed Coal Ridge volleyball the school’s first league championship of any kind.

“It’s exciting,” said Denise Greene, the only coach the Titan program has ever known. “These girls worked really hard. I’m really happy for them.”

Now, Greene looks to guide her Coal Ridge team just a little bit further.

Whatever happens next, no matter how far the Titans advance, they’ll do it as a team.

“I’ve known most of these girls since the seventh grade,” senior setter Sierra Grove said. “We’ve all been playing volleyball together since then. We’re all really different off the court but, somehow, on the court we work really well together.”

PEACH VALLEY, Colorado ” Roaring Fork’s volleyball team has had one goal in mind since the season began: to peak at the right time.

“We’re really doing that,” said first-year head coach Carrie Shultz, whose Rams

closed the season by winning six of their last seven 3A WSL matches. “We played strong the last couple weeks and we hope to take that right into districts.”

With seniors Maria Flores and Brenda Bamford leading a young team ” one that has five sophomores contributing significant minutes ” the Rams look to sneak up on the District 6 field in Peach Valley on Friday.

“That has been the foundation of this year, why were able to get a good start,” Shultz said of her senior leaders. “That experience got us off to a good start as those sophomores have grown.

“We knew going in we had a pretty young team. It’s just maturity. We’ve matured as the season’s gone on. We’ve learned from experience and that’s basically what’s making our team stronger.”

The Rams finished the regular season 10-9 overall and 9-7 in the 3A WSL.

GYPSUM, Colorado ” Glenwood Springs looks to pounce from the shadows at Saturday’s Eagle Valley-hosted 4A District 7 volleyball tournament.

The Demons, who won just four matches in the regular season and took the sixth and final district-qualifying spot from the 4A WSL, won’t have an easy go of it.

Host Eagle Valley just finished off a 17-2 regular season and beat Glenwood twice in the regular season. Delta, too, swept the season series from the Demons in the regular season.

Sure enough, those are the teams Glenwood will open with in morning pool play.

Mullen, Montezuma-Cortez and Steamboat Springs will also making the trip to Gypsum. The top two teams advance to regionals.

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