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Rifle spikers fall in opener

Phil Sandoval

RIFLE – It’s hard to win when you beat yourself.

Rifle High volleyball coach Victoria DiGuglielmo said that was the problem the Bears had in its season-opening 2-0 loss to Class 5A Grand Junction Thursday night.

A jittery first game put Rifle in a hole from which they never escaped.

The Tigers led by as many as 10 points before rolling to an easy 15-7 win in the first game. They secured the match with a 15-13 victory, despite a furious Bears comeback in the second game.

“We can’t step out and give away six points like we did in the first game. That’s our problem we have to figure out,” DiGuglielmo said.

Rifle needed all of game one to pull it together.

Grand Junction scored 11 of the game’s first 12 points. The run, led by sisters Kara and Leanne Olson and outside hitter Josi Nourse, was too much of a gap for Rifle.

The Bears laid the foundation for game two late in the initial contest when a four-point run, fueled by senior Caitlin Wagner, made the score respectable.

Wagner continued her strong play in game two.

She contributed four kills, including a spike off Taira Enewold’s set. It gave the Bears a short-lived 11-10 lead, after being down by five points in the game’s early stages.

Krista Wagstrom aided Rifle’s comeback with a couple of key spikes for winners in the run before an unforced error opened the door for Grand Junction.

The Tigers scored three straight points, two off Rifle errors, to pull ahead 13-11. Rifle managed to cut the margin to one twice before Grand Junction sophomore Mallory Rodriquez’s spike through an unprotected middle gave the visiting Tigers the match.

Wagstrom and Rodriquez tied for the most kills with five each. Wagstrom also contributed a team-high three blocks.

Rifle (0-1) resumes play on Tuesday on the road at Grand Junction Central.


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