Titan spikers dominant in sweep of Bears
Trailing the Rifle Bears 15-10 early in the first set, the Coal Ridge Titans (13-5, 7-0) girls volleyball team turned to its star senior, Kaitlyn Detlefsen, to get them back into the game.
As usual, Detlefsen came through for the Titans in a big way, leading Coal Ridge to a sweep of the visiting Bears, 25-17, 25-8, 25-15.
Behind Detlefsen — who leads all of 3A in blocks and is top three in hitting percentage — and fellow senior Karissa Feese, who were honored on Senior Night prior to the game, the Titans were able to roll past the Bears, but not before the slow start in the first set put them in that early hole.
Shots from the Titans went long or fell short into the net to start the first set. In a sign of over-aggression and pumping adrenaline, the Titans appeared to be pressing on their home court, which allowed the Bears to race out to the early lead.
An ace by Rifle’s Jordan Dorr kick-started the Bears’ run in the first set, which was ultimately capped off by a perfectly placed shot by Dani Whaley, forcing a Titans timeout.
Following the timeout by Coal Ridge head coach Aimee Gerber, the Titans roared out of the quick stoppage to rattle off 16 of a possible 20 points to take first set in convincing fashion.
“I think with the emotion of senior night and all of the amped-up energy, I could just tell that the girls needed a quick break based off of all the hits and serves going out,” Gerber said. “I told them, ‘Let’s go one point at a time and push five here.’”
Detlefsen led the way with two huge blocks at the net coming out of the break. The senior middle hitter then went on the offensive, rattling off three big blocks to give the Titans the lead.
“She [Detlefsen] has been huge for our program,” Gerber said. “This is my fourth year actually coaching her. She just dominates the net. I think she just knows she’s hungry for the next level, and she’s starting to show it on our court by taking over.”
After a kill from junior middle hitter Kaitlyn Harlow, the Titans were able to seal the first set win, 25-17, in a show of force.
Set two was all Titans right from the start, thanks to superb play by junior setter Dana Kotz. On top of her duties as a setter for Detlefsen, Harlow and junior outside hitter Nicole Mooney, Kotz was outstanding defensively on her side of the court, continuously coming up with big digs for the Titans.
Holding a 10-4 lead after a great touch shot by Kotz at the net, Whaley answered for Rifle with a touch shot of her own over the towering Detlefsen and Harlow at the net.
Harlow answered with an incredible diving play on the next point, diving to her right at full extension to lift the ball back over the net onto the Bears side of the court where it fell for a Titans point.
Looking to put away the Bears in set two, the Titans went on a 15-3 run thanks to Detlefsen and Kotz, who continued to put the ball in the perfect spot for Detlefsen to unleash her hellacious spikes.
At one point in set two, Detlefsen had a hand in seven straight points, coming either by kill or block.
With a sweep of the Bears just one set away, the Titans clamped down and took control midway through set three as sophomore outside hitter Cassie Greene joined the offensive party.
As Rifle keyed in on Detlefsen and Mooney at the net, Greene was able to surprise the Bears with her own powerful shots.
The sophomore finished with seven kills on the night in limited action, providing the Titans with yet another offensive weapon.
While Greene was able to take over for a brief stretch in set three, the Bears refused to go away, thanks to a terrific play at the net by junior outside hitter Makerah Harris and a kill by Mackenzie Ventrello narrowed the Titans’ lead to 16-12.
From there, Detlefsen took over at the net, coming up with four kills down the stretch to help the Titans finish off the sweep of the Bears.
Detlefsen finished with 13 kills, six blocks and four aces, while Kotz lent a helping hand with 29 assists, nine aces and six digs. Feese and Emily Wright each added six digs in the win.
“This was a huge win because you don’t want to lose at home on Senior Night,” Gerber said. “We owed it to our seniors to work hard and make sure they went out with a win. We hope to be on our home court for regionals.”
Pushing their winning streak to an impressive nine straight games, the Titans have a chance to win the league title, Thursday, at Grand Valley (10-7, 5-0). Back on Sept. 15, the Titans swept the Cardinals in a nonleague game, 25-19, 25-15, 25-17.
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I’m not often given to public displays of affection, but on the morning of Monday, July 19, I felt it necessary to give an old and dear friend a proper send off.