Rams get the kinks out, down Bears
Post Independent Staff
RIFLE ” Getting the early-season kinks out was a big topic for both coaches after Thursday’s nonleague match between Roaring Fork and Rifle.
“I thought our effort was good, but there’s still some things I’m questioning,” said Roaring Fork coach Karen Crownhart, after taking a 3-1 (25-13, 20-25, 25-9, 25-18) decision over an inspired Bears team that was playing in their home opener after two straight road matches in Grand Junction.
One thing Crownhart questioned herself on was the removal of Erica Pelland during game two.
“We lost a major part of our offense when we took her out,” Crownhart said of the change.
And the Bears (0-3) took advantage.
“The magic moment of that game was when the subs came in and set (the team) on fire,” Rifle head coach Geneva Farr said.
Backups Emmy Moeller, Kelsey Feeley and Abbey Schmidt all had a moment in the Bears turnaround, which produced their first game victory of the 2005 season.
Farr said the improved play of the Bears was a matter of confidence.
“Overall, our confidence was way up this match,” she said.
The Rams met that challenge with strong defense.
“It was their defense that won the match,” Farr said. “(Roaring Fork) is an incredible team. I haven’t seen anybody play defense like that.”
Rifle had plenty of long rallies in the latter stages of the match.
Unfortunately, they were thwarted by Roaring Fork’s hustle ” along with the powerful swings of Pelland and Sarah Armstrong.
They combined for six kills as the Rams broke game three wide open with a 13-4 lead. Up by nine after a Rifle timeout, Roaring Fork’s lead never slipped below 10 points in what turned out to be the key part of the match.
Up 2-1 going into the fourth game, Roaring Fork had the upper hand. But Rifle refused to cave in. The lead changed hands nine times before the Rams could put some distance between themselves and their opponents.
So it figured that Pelland and Armstrong would be involved.
Pelland, playing on the outside, took a set from Armstrong and pounded home a tie-breaking winner to take a 16-15 lead. Armstrong followed with a sweeper to Rifle’s vacated right side for another quick point.
And after a mild Bears response, Rifle’s gym became eerily quiet.
“Our communication stopped,” Farr said. “And when our communication and trust stop, that’s when we stop.”
Armstrong turned the lights out a few rallies later with a match-ending swat to an empty back corner.
Both area squads begin league play with their next matches. Roaring Fork hosts Gunnison Saturday. Rifle takes on state-ranked Glenwood Springs at the Bear Lair Tuesday.
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