Harlow’s big night paces Titans past Warriors
Hosting the Grand Junction Central Warriors Thursday night at Coal Ridge High School in New Castle, the Titans’ girls volleyball team got off to a slow start before senior Paige Harlow came through in a big way, pacing the Titans to a three-set sweep over the Warriors by scores of 25-14, 25-12 and 25-20 to improve to 3-0 on the young season.
Coming off of a performance on Tuesday against Paonia in which she was unhappy with the way she performed, Harlow came into Thursday’s game knowing she had to step up in a big way.
She sure did, starting right away in the first set.
Two early kills from Harlow gave the Titans a 4-2 lead in the first set, but the Warriors battled back to tie it at 5-all. Midway through the set, Grand Junction Central took a 13-11 lead on a tip by senior Jayln Alton. A tip from Harlow then made it 14-12, which seemed to spark the Titans.
Following Harlow’s tip, Coal Ridge went on a 13-0 run to win the set, capped off by four straight aces from Harlow to take the first-set win.
“I had never served that many times in a row, because I usually miss-hit one,” Harlow said. “That’s sort of when I knew I was having a good night. I knew my teammates needed me to step up tonight, and I was determined to have a good performance at home because I was so frustrated after Tuesday’s game against Paonia. It was just a lot of fun tonight out there with my teammates.”
After the thrilling first-set win, the Titans looked to keep the momentum rolling from Harlow’s performance down the stretch, but the Warriors seemed to regroup, racing out to a 5-1 lead before the Titans found their footing.
A kill by Harlow tied the set at 5-all, setting off another run by the Titans — this time 20-6 — as senior Cassie Greene, freshman Taylor Wiescamp, senior Santana Martinez and sophomore Lyanna Nevarez recorded kills, while senior Emily Wright and junior Makenzie Crawford recorded aces in the second-set win.
“I think desire is the biggest part with this group,” Titans Head Coach Aimee Gerber said. “We have worked on out-hustling teams, but sometimes that’s hard. At times in the past they’ve wanted to just dominate, and they’ve learned that it’s not about dominating, it’s about working harder than the team across the net. They’ve worked really hard on that this year and I think we’re starting to see a change.”
Coming off of the impressive second-set win, the Titans looked to finish off the sweep of the Warriors. The third and final set proved to be the toughest of the night as the Warriors battled and battled, at one point holding a 12-11 lead, forcing a Titan timeout.
Out of the break, Coal Ridge found its footing, rattling off a 12-4 run to take a 22-16 lead as junior Alexa Wiescamp recorded two kills, while her sister Taylor added a kill and an impressive block to give the Titans the lead.
Grand Junction Central wouldn’t quit though, battling back to make it 24-20, but a miss-hit on match-point gave the Titans another home win, pushing their record to 3-0 on the season.
In the win over the Warriors, Harlow finished with 15 kills, five aces and four blocks. Wright chipped in with 12 digs and two aces.
Martinez had a strong night as well, adding 10 digs, two aces and three kills, while Greene chipped in with three kills and three assists.
The Wiescamp sisters also had a strong night as Alexa led the way with six kills and five digs, while Taylor added seven kills and five blocks.
Crawford dished out 28 assists for Coal Ridge.
Through three matches, the Titans have lost just one set, which is pretty impressive for a team breaking in a handful of new starters under Gerber.
“I think this start gives us a lot of encouragement,” Gerber said. “Any time they get a win under their belts, it makes them more confident and makes them work harder. I don’t take any team for granted. We don’t talk about what games we should win or lose. It’s all about the battles within our own team and staying consistent, working together and not getting frustrated with each other. We haven’t had a lot of that this year. There’s a lot of cohesion with this group.”
The Titans travel to Moffat County Sept. 16 for a matchup with the Bulldogs.