Demons sweep Sailors in tourney title game
In its biggest early season test, the Glenwood Springs Demons’ girls volleyball team passed with flying colors, sweeping the Steamboat Springs Sailors in straight sets 25-20 and 25-21 to win the Demon Invitational for the second consecutive year, this time under first-year head coach Kehau Rust.
Prior to topping the Sailors Saturday afternoon inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium, the Demons rolled to a two-set win over the Roaring Fork Rams by scores of 25-12 and 25-20, setting up the championship game showdown against Steamboat, which went 3-0 in Pool B play during the three-day tournament.
With the two 4A Western Slope League rivals set for the championship game matchup at Glenwood Springs High School, the Demons knew they’d receive their biggest test of the young season. Fortunately for the Demons, a good home crowd and an intense atmosphere inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium played a factor in the Demons pulling away late in both sets to win the tournament championship.
“I think they knew coming into this game against Steamboat that they were going to have to turn it on and really bring it,” Rust said. “They knew Steamboat was a solid, low-error team, and they knew that we had to come out and fight hard against Steamboat. And really, it’s another rivalry game because Steamboat is really good in all sports and we’re always battling them. So I think the girls knew this was going to set off our season, so if we would have gone down it would have gotten our next week off to a rough start, but if we came out on top they knew it was a positive outlook for the season.”
Anticipating a hard-fought match that could go all three sets at the tournament, the two teams didn’t disappoint the onlooking crowd to start the first set as the two teams traded points back-and-forth, resulting in an early 5-all tie.
Glenwood created a bit of breathing room thanks to an ace from senior Tye Wedhorn to make it 7-5 Glenwood, but the Sailors answered right back to tie it at 7-all on a block by junior Avery Harrington. Later in the set, a kill from Glenwood junior Baylee Johnson tied it at 12-all, to a quick 2-0 run to give Glenwood a 14-12 lead, forcing a Steamboat timeout.
Following the quick break, Glenwood stretch its lead to 15-3 on a kill from junior Ashley Emery before Steamboat came back to tie it at 15-all. All tied up 18-all a few points later, Glenwood started its run to pull away from the Sailors as senior May Fuller recorded a kill before three long volleys from Steamboat resulted in a 22-19 Glenwood lead, forcing another Steamboat timeout.
The break wouldn’t stop Glenwood’s run though as kills from Johnson and senior Cheyenne McLelland gave Glenwood a commanding 24-20 lead, before a deflected shot by Steamboat was unable to be returned on set-point, giving the Demons a big 25-20 win to hold a 1-0 lead in the match.
“We knew we had to step up from our previous couple of days in this tournament,” Wedhorn said. “Our warm-up prior to Steamboat was key, because we were really hyped up to play them and we had a lot of energy, which definitely carried over into the match.”
Looking to finish off the sweep in the championship game, the Demons came out strong for the start of the second set, racing out to a 12-8 lead behind three kills from Wedhorn and one kill each from Johnson and McLelland, forcing a Steamboat timeout.
An ace by Steamboat senior Hannah McCreight pulled the Sailors back to within two a short time later at 12-10, before the Demons started their run. A serving error by Steamboat made it 13-10 Demons before a kill from Wedhorn, an ace from McLelland and another serving error by Steamboat gave Glenwood an 18-13 lead.
Steamboat and Glenwood then traded points as the Demons took a 20-16 lead, leading to a kill from Emery and an ace from senior Kassidi Johnson to put Glenwood on top 23-18.
But Steamboat wouldn’t go away as kills from junior Maddie Heydon and sophomore Anna Allsberry pulled the Sailors to within three at 24-21.
Holding serve, the Sailors had a chance to possibly come all the way back in the set for the win, but a serving error by the Sailors gave the Demons the championship game win on their home floor for the second year in a row.
“I’m stocked,” Rust said. “I’m super excited to go undefeated in the Demon Invitational, and I think it’s a good start to our season, and it’s good for everyone in our conference to see that we’re a much different team.”
Sitting at 5-0 on the season, the Demons prepare for the start of 4A Western Slope League play next week on Thursday with a home game against Summit. Prior to the game with the Tigers, Glenwood will host the Grand Junction Central Warriors Tuesday night in a non-conference matchup as a tune-up for league play.
“I think we’re going to come into league play next week playing at a high level,” Wedhorn said. “We’re having a lot of fun right now and we have a lot of support for each other and trust each other, which is something we definitely didn’t have last season. This year just feels different and we’re excited to start league play to see just how good we can be.”