Demons, Bears pick up big wins to start Demon Invitational
In a packed Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium at Glenwood Springs High School Thursday night, the Glenwood Springs Demons and Rifle Bears’ girls volleyball teams picked up opening-round wins to kick-start the eight-team, three-day Labor Day Weekend Demon Invitational in Glenwood.
The Demons, who picked up a 3-1 win over Grand Junction Tuesday night, rolled to a dominant 2-0 sweep over the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers by scores of 25-13 and 25-11, while the Bears picked up a 2-1 win over the Roaring Fork Rams by scores of 25-18, 22-25 and 15-11 to get the weekend tournament off to a good start for local schools.
Starting the tournament in game one was the Bears and Rams as the new-look Bears under third-year head coach Kirsten Noska squared off with the young Rams under second-year head coach Donna Bratcher.
Things got off to a fast start in the first set as the Bears and Rams traded aces as both teams stood tall serving.
An ace from Roaring Fork junior Gaby Santana tied the first set at 4-all, but a tip by Rifle senior Alexis Dormio a few points later gave the Bears a 6-4 lead.
The Rams would battle back to pull to within one point at 9-8 following a long volley from the Bears, but Rifle junior Rose Mastrud placed a perfect tip just over the net and out of the reach of Ram defenders to make it 10-9 Bears.
The two teams then traded points before knotting it up at 12-all, but three straight aces from Rifle senior Rylee Wisniewski and senior Eve Miller gave the Bears a 16-13 lead.
Later in the set, Roaring Fork senior Lily Nichols picked up an ace for the Rams to make it 18-16 Rifle, but the Bears then went on a 6-2 run to take a 24-18 lead thanks to a block and two aces by senior Shalynn Smith, before a kill from Mastrud closed out set one for the Bears by a score of 25-18.
Coming into the season, Noska and her staff wanted the Bears to play faster offensively and play with more efficiency.
That was on display at times in the first set.
“I saw it at times, which was good,” Noska said. “We’re still trying to see who our starting setter will be, and we worked through all of them tonight to see who gives our hitters the best chance to score points for us. But right now we’re definitely a level above where we were at last year for sure.”
In the best-of-3 format, the Rams needed a response in the second set to keep the match alive.
They certainly got one as the young Rams hung tough with the veteran Bears, trading point for point throughout the set while never letting Rifle hold a lead past the 2-1 mark in the set.
In the second set, Rifle and Roaring Fork tied three different times, including late at 18-18 before the Rams created some breathing room at 21-19 thanks to kills from Santana and junior Trinity Potter.
Holding a 23-20 lead and on the brink of the second-set win, the Rams struggled to close out the set over the Bears as Rifle stormed back to make it 24-22, but a long volley from Rifle on the ensuing point gave the Rams the much-needed win, forcing a winner-take-all third set.
In the final set, it was all Bears as Smith broke open a 5-5 tie with a kill, jump-starting a Rifle run to pull away for the 15-11 win.
Kendall Bernot and Potter led the way for the Rams offensively with two serving aces each against the Bears.
GLENWOOD 2, MONTEZUMA-CORTEZ 0
After sitting and watching the Bears and Rams battle through a three-set match on their home floor, the Glenwood Demons came out fired up to show their local teams just what they are made of this season under first-year head coach Kehau Rust.
Unfortunately for the visiting Montezuma-Cortez Panthers, they ran into a buzz-saw Thursday night inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium as the Demons rolled to an impressive two-set sweep by scores of 25-13 and 25-11, with neither game being as close as the score.
In the first set, Glenwood stunned the onlooking crowd inside the gym as the Demons raced out to an insurmountable 12-1 lead over the Panthers.
Glenwood junior Ashley Emery highlighted the opening 6-1 run with a great ace to force a Panther timeout, but following the break the Panthers still couldn’t find their footing against a talented Glenwood attack as senior Cheyenne McLelland recorded a kill to make it 7-1 Demons before fellow seniors Tye Wedhorn and Mary Fuller picked up kills of their own to make it 9-1 Glenwood.
Holding a 12-1 lead over the Panthers, the Demons looked ready to completely run away with the first set, but an ace by Cortez’s Malia Begay and a net violation on Glenwood made it 13-4 Demons.
Fortunately for Glenwood, things turned back around quickly as Fuller and senior Kassidi Johnson teamed up for a block at the net to make it 16-4 before a kill by Fuller two points later made it 18-4.
Montezuma-Cortez battled back to make it 20-12 late in the set, but kills by Fuller and Wedhorn made it 24-12, leading to a serving error from the Panthers to give the Demons the 25-13 first-set win.
Following the impressive first-set win, Glenwood continued its dominance in the second set as the Demons raced out to a 12-6 lead, highlighted by a block from junior Baylee Johnson, which sparked an 8-3 run by the Demons to take an 18-9 lead in the second set, putting Glenwood on the brink of a sweep.
Wedhorn later recorded two booming kills to make it 22-10 before a long volley from the Panthers wrapped up an impressive sweep for the Demons by a score of 25-11.
In the win, Wedhorn recorded eight kills, two blocks and two aces, while junior Sarah Wagner recorded three blocks to lead the Demons.
“I think my biggest takeaway from tonight was knowing that our team played at our level the entire time,” Rust said. “We know our team is deep with talent; I can put any of the 12 in and know it will be the same result.”
With the win, Glenwood improves to 2-0 on the young season.
The Demons and Bears will face off for a rivalry matchup Friday night at 7 p.m. in the second round of pool play in the Demon Invitational.
“Rifle’s game tonight versus their game tomorrow night against us will be a whole different level of energy,” Rust said. “They’re not going to play easy against us. It’s our big rival and they’re going to come out firing.”
Friday’s matchup will feature two teams at 1-0 in the tournament, setting up a pivotal game in the bid for a possible tournament title. For Rifle and Noska, there’s a sense of hope that the first-game jitters are out of the way.
“We had a lot of girls playing their first varsity game tonight, so hopefully those first-game jitters are gone and over with,” Noska said. “There’s a high level of excitement to play Glenwood because they’re our rival and they’re a good measuring stick.
“We just have to be tough at the net and form a wall against their attack.”
The rivalry game is set for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
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