Coal Ridge volleyball takes down Glenwood Springs in home tournament
A strong game overall at the serving line, and some big hits from sophomore middle hitter Taylor Wiescamp helped the Coal Ridge Titans volleyball team take down the Glenwood Springs Demons in two sets Friday night at Coal Ridge High School on Day 1 of the Coal Ridge Volleyball Invitational in New Castle.
The Titans rolled to a 25-16 win in the first set after racing out to an 8-1 lead, before then battling through some adversity in the second set to win 25-22 in the best of three tournament.
“The girls were ticked about losing earlier [in the day], and we talked about the intensity and energy needing to be there,” said Aimee Gerber, Coal Ridge’s head coach. “I told them they could be a warrior or princess, and I didn’t want a team of princesses. They came out and showed they wanted it.”
Opening up the local rivalry match inside Coal Ridge High School, the Titans looked to be the superior team right after the opening whistle, racing out to that key 8-1 lead as senior Kenzie Crawford started off the first set with an ace. Two points later, a kill by junior Lyanna Nevarez — returning to the lineup for the nightcap after missing the first game of the day due to illness — spiked a kill to the court to make it 3-0, before then recording two straight aces to make it 6-1 Titans on their home court.
A tip shot by Glenwood junior Emily Nilsson got the Demons back on track for a bit, making it an 8-3 game, but kills from Coal Ridge junior Brecken Gucchini and senior Kara Morgan, and an ace from sophomore Phoebe Young pushed Coal Ridge’s lead to 13-5 midway through the match.
“Coming into that game, I was already hearing excuses from our girls that they were tired or sore, but they were just excuses,” said Kehau Rust, Glenwood’s head coach. “But we beat them earlier in the year, and I think our girls thought we would win outright, and it showed.”
A kill from Glenwood junior Shanik Zambrano and senior Ashley Emery sparked the Demons momentarily, but a block from Wiescamp put the Titans on top 18-13, forcing a Glenwood timeout.
The two teams slowly traded points from there before a kill from Morgan made it 20-15 Titans, leading to an eventual 25-16 win for the Titans on a lift violation on Glenwood on match point.
The second set saw the Demons find their footing early, as the two teams were tied eight times in the set.
A kill from Wiescamp knotted the game at 1-1 before the talented sophomore followed up with a tip shot that caught Glenwood off guard, making it 2-1 Titans. An ace from Crawford made it 3-1 before the Demons battled back to tie the set at 3-3 on a tip shot from Zambrano.
Nevarez recorded a tip shot of her own to knot the match up at 4-4, before Morgan blocked a shot at the net, giving the Titans a 5-4 lead.
Morgan later followed up with an ace to give the Titans some breathing room at 11-9, but an ace from Glenwood senior Logan Nieslanik, a kill from Emery, and a kill from junior Kaitlyn Johnson tied the set up at 18-18.
At that point, the Titans pulled away as Crawford blocked a shot at the net, and Young recorded an ace to make it 22-18. Johnson tried to keep the match alive for the Demons with a kill to make it 23-19, but a net violation on Glenwood ended the second set at 25-21 in favor of the Titans, giving Coal Ridge the win.
“The hardest part for us is when we rotate players off the court,” Rust said. “It’s a huge momentum swing for us, but it’s something we’re trying to work through and figure out how to keep our momentum going when certain players are off the floor.”
“We’ve been trying to work through some mental lapses in close situations all season,” Gerber said. “That’s been our Achilles heel all year. We’re great when we’re up, but when we’re down we’re timid. We’ve had to battle a lot this season. I’m very proud of their efforts tonight to take care of business in that second set.”
Prior to the matchup between the two local teams, Glenwood pulled out a 2-1 win over Pagosa Springs, winning by scores of 25-18, 16-25, and 15-8, while Coal Ridge dropped its first match of the day to Battle Mountain, 2-1 by scores of 18-25, 25-22, and 13-15.
Both teams sit at 1-1 in the tournament and return to action Saturday morning as Coal Ridge takes on Pagosa Springs at 10 a.m., while Glenwood Springs plays Battle Mountain at 11 a.m. Following those two matches, the tournament will move into playoff matches.
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