Coal Ridge vollyeball shakes off rough second set, tops Aspen 3-1
Coal Ridge volleyball head coach Aimee Gerber believes the Titans’ volleyball team hasn’t really reached its peak yet. That’s quite impressive, considering the Titans haven’t lost since Sept. 7 in the Demon Invitational at Glenwood Springs High School.
On Tuesday night in New Castle, the Titans flashed sneak peaks at what they could look like once their peak is reached, topping the visiting Aspen Skiers 3-1 in 3A Western Slope League action.
Aside from a sloppy second set that handed the Skiers a set win, Coal Ridge was a force to be reckoned with right from the opening whistle, largely thanks to junior captain Taylor Wiescamp and junior Phoebe Young.
Wiescamp led the Coal Ridge charge in the first set, helping the Titans shake off a slow start defensively by spiking a kill to the floor and then blocking an Aspen spike at the net, making it a 6-5 game in favor of Coal Ridge. A few points later, Wiescamp came through with an ace, pushing the Titans’ lead to 10-5.
Tips from juniors Ari Cornejo and Maya Mercado then made it a 12-6 game for the Titans before an ace from Aspen’s Maddy Bergdahl pulled the Skiers to within four points at 12-8.
From there, Wiescamp took over, pushing the Titans across the finish line in the first set thanks to a kill and a pair of blocks, as well as a net violation on the Skiers, which gave Coal Ridge the 25-16 opening-set win.
“She [Wiescamp] never quits working, and she never quits asking how to make things better on the court,” Gerber said. “The great thing about her, though, is she never lets mistakes affect her overall game. She’ll make a few mistakes here and there, but she’ll shake it off and keep swinging away.”
Looking to build off of that first-set victory, the Titans switched sides and seemed to lose their way early in the second set.
Aspen jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead before Coal Ridge battled back, thanks to a tip over the net by Wiescamp and a thunderous kill by Mercado made it 8-5 Skiers.
After that, Aspen pulled away, taking a 20-13 lead on the Titans, silencing the home crowd on Homecoming week in New Castle.
Credit to the deep, experienced Titans, though, as Coal Ridge came roaring back to take a 21-20 lead off of a pair of massive kills from Young and an ace from junior Brecken Guccini.
That rally was short-lived, though, as the mistakes that plagued Coal Ridge early in the set cropped up in the end, allowing Aspen to steal a 25-23 second-set win, knotting the match at 1-1.
“We just made a lot of stupid mistakes in the second set,” Gerber said. “We’re still trying to find our way right now, and I felt like we got complacent in the second set and were unsure of ourselves.”
Shaking off the second-set errors, Coal Ridge straightened things out and buried the Skiers in the third and fourth sets.
In the third set, Coal Ridge jumped out to an 11-1 lead before Aspen knew what was happening as senior captain Lyanna Nevarez recorded a kill early in the set, Wiescamp tipped another shot over the net, and Guccini tipped two of her own shots over the net, putting the Skiers in a huge hole early.
A pair of aces from Wiescamp later made it 19-4 before kills from junior Kallie Bumgardner and Young put the set away for the Titans at 25-9.
“Phoebe had a great night for us,” Gerber said. “She’s really growing and learning how to power her hits, knowing when to go with power and when to back off a bit. I think she had a great night overall for us; she’s very strong and very athletic.”
Pushing to put the Skiers away in the fourth set, Coal Ridge came out of the gates fast again, jumping out to a 5-2 lead off of a kill and an ace from sophomore Peyton Garrison before Cornejo recorded a kill, making it 6-2. Later in the set Aspen’s Climary Sanchez came through with a block at the net to stop the Titans’ roll, making it a 10-4 set.
That block merely slowed the roll briefly as it was all Coal Ridge down the stretch as Wiescamp recorded a block and a kill, Mercado came through with two kills, and a serving error by Aspen on game-point for the Titans set the Coal Ridge faithful home happy with a 25-15 win in the final set, giving the Titans the 3-1 win, extending their winning streak to eight straight matches.
“This is probably the most, overall, athletic team I’ve ever coached,” Gerber said. “In the past I’ve had maybe three or four super-competitive athletes in a group with that drive, but I think you can say that about this entire group. They have a mission in mind of getting back to the state tournament. We’re tired of looking at stats and stuff and being behind in that regard; we want to get back there, so we just need to keep improving.”
The win pushes Coal Ridge’s record to 10-2 on the season, including a mark of 5-0 in the 3A Western Slope League. In the win over Aspen, Wiescamp and Young led the Titans with 14 and 13 kills each, while Cornejo, Mercado, Nevarez and Guccini added five each.
Senior captain Taylor Roberts chipped in with 17 digs, while Nevarez added 15 digs. Young contributed eight digs defensively. Wiescamp blocked seven shots, while Mercado added four blocks.
Offensively, Young and Cornejo added 16 and 14 assists, respectively.
The Titans host the Gunnison Cowboys Saturday in a 3A WSL battle.
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