Defense on minds of area volleyball teams
A major focus for all of Garfield County high school volleyball teams is going to be their defense this weekend in the regional rounds of the Class 3A and 4A state tournaments.
Each team’s coach knows it will go up against squads with strong hitters, and have been preparing all week for their upcoming opponents.
Glenwood Springs is primarily focused on defense, and for good reason. One opponent, Pueblo County (12-11 overall), has an experienced team that includes 10 seniors, and three hitters who have combined to contribute more than 400 kills for the Hornets. Lewis-Palmer (21-2 overall) ran the table on its league schedule, and the Rangers’ Alexa Smith has put up 361 kills on her own.
The Demons, however, average 72 digs per match. They’re hoping to step up their defensive game as they battle against both teams. Leading the team in digs is senior Delaney Gaddis, whose 360 digs is a team high. Her 5.1 digs per set also ranks her 10th overall in Class 4A.
Grand Valley’s defense will be challenged as well, as they play unbeaten regional tournament host Manitou Springs (23-0 overall) on Friday night. Mustangs sophomores Katie McKiel and Nicole Mack have chipped in the majority of their team’s kills. Pagosa Springs (12-11 overall) has a balanced offensive attack, but the Cardinals’ defense still has to make a strong presence in order to advance.
“I think the biggest thing we’ve done is focus on our goals to advance and to continue further into the postseason. We’ve done a lot of defensive work because the opponents we face have got some big hitters,” coach David Walck said. “[Manitou Springs] is undefeated, and Pagosa comes from a very talented league in the southwest corner of the state.”
Rifle is playing in its first postseason of any kind since 2001, a span of 12 years. The Bears, like the other area teams, are also focused on defense. Rifle will be competing against University (15-8 overall) and The Classical Academy (15-8 overall) in Greeley.
“We don’t know a whole lot about University, but we know that they have a lot of hard hitting girls and good servers,” Bears coach Erin Reider said. “We were able to hang with [Western Slope League champion] Gunnison this season. We know that if we can do that, we should be able to come out of this weekend with a win.”
Colorado Springs Christian (13-10 overall) and Bishop Machebeuf (18-5 overall) are both teams that Roaring Fork will have to work hard against defensively in order to win. Sophomore Abby Skrastins of CSC leads the team with a total of 230 kills, followed by senior Maddy Stephens with 182, respectively.
“I’m really excited,” Roaring Fork captain Toni Gross said. “We’ve been working on mixing up the starters, trying to get everybody to work with each other better.”
Hosting the regional tournament for the first time in the school’s short history, Coal Ridge is ready and focused for their two upcoming matches with Estes Park (8-11 overall) and Faith Christian (12-11 overall). They have been preparing all season for this advancement into postseason.
“Our goal is to get past this weekend, and the only way to do that is to win both matches,” coach Scott Black said.
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