Titans, Demons place fourth and fifth in Coal Ridge tourney
Competing at the Coal Ridge Invitational volleyball tournament in New Castle Saturday morning and afternoon, both the Coal Ridge Titans and the Glenwood Springs Demons went 1-1 on the day, finishing 2-2 at the tournament as the Titans placed fourth out of eight teams, while the Demons placed fifth out of eight teams.
For the Titans, it was somewhat of a Jekyll and Hyde performance Saturday against the Pagosa Springs Pirates and the Alamosa Mean Moose as the Titans would look unbeatable in one set, but in the next set communication and placement seemed to break down, leading to the split on Saturday.
One night after splitting matches with Valley and Glenwood Springs, the Titans returned to its home court Saturday morning for a matchup with the Pirates. Coal Ridge started out hot in the first set, rolling to a seven-point win, but after the first set the Titans struggled with consistency before ultimately pulling out a thrilling three-set win by scores of 25-18, 22-25 and 15-13 over the Pirates.
In the first set the early-morning matchup seemed to cause both teams issues as the two teams battled to a 7-7 tie behind a number of unforced errors. Tied at 7-all, the Titans found their footing in New Castle as senior middle hitter Paige Harlow came through with a big block at the net to give the Titans a 9-7 lead. A few points later junior setter Kenzie Crawford recorded a big ace to give Coal Ridge a 12-8 lead, kick-starting a Titan run.
Following Crawford’s ace, senior outside hitter Cassie Greene picked up a booming kill to make it 13-8 Titans before Harlow tipped a shot over the Pagosa defense for a 15-8 Titan lead. Pagosa senior Morgan Lewis recorded a kill to stop the Titan run, but Greene and freshman middle hitter Taylor Wiescamp added kills of their own later in the match to give the Titans a resounding 20-12 lead late in the set.
Pagosa mounted a quick 3-0 run to pull to within five at 20-15, but a 3-0 run by Coal Ridge capped off by tip from Harlow made it 23-15 before Harlow finished off the first-set win with a huge block at the net.
The second set started off much like the first as the two teams traded points early. A block by Harlow pulled the Titans to within one at 9-8 midway through the match, but the Pirates found some breathing room as senior Keena Murphy picked up a big kill for the Pirates before adding an ace to give Pagosa a 14-11 lead.
A kill from Lewis a few points later made it 20-17 Pagosa as the Titans couldn’t pull to within less than three throughout the set until junior outside hitter Alexa Wiescamp came through with a big kill. Greene then recorded an ace to make it 20-19 Pagosa before a block from Taylor Wiescamp at the net tied the set at 20-all late.
Three straight points from Pagosa gave the Pirates a 23-20 lead, but the Titans fought back to 23-22, putting pressure on the Pirates to close out the second set. They’d do just that as senior Faith Ahlhardt recorded an ace on set point to give the Pirates a 25-22 win, forcing a third and final set.
In the final set, the two teams traded point-for-point yet again, tying at 6-all before the Titans created some breathing room as Taylor Wiescamp recorded a block at the net before coming back on the net point to record a kill, giving the Titans a two-point lead at 9-7.
Coal Ridge stretched its lead to 12-8 but Pagosa fought back as Lewis recorded a kill and Murphy blocked a Coal Ridge shot, but the Titans pulled away briefly again as Greene recorded a kill to make it 14-10. Pagosa battled back to make it 14-13 on kills from Ahlhardt and Murphy, but the Titans got a tip from Harlow to win the third and final set, 15-13, to lock up a spot in the third-place game later in the afteroon.
Following the Titans’ three-set win over Pagosa Springs ,the Demons took the court to take on the undefeated Valley Vikings in the final round-robin game of the tournament prior to the championship round.
Against the Vikings, Glenwood fought hard against one of the top teams in all of 3A, losing by just a total of six points in two sets.
In the first set, Valley raced out to an 8-5 lead as junior Kenzie Ray came up with back-to-back kills for the Vikings. A serving error on Glenwood made it 9-6 Vikings, which kick-started a 7-2 run for Valley to take a 16-8 lead midway through the first set. A kill from Glenwood senior Tye Wedhorn stopped the Valley run, which seemed to get the Demons going as Glenwood battled back to 20-19 highlighted by a block from senior Kassidi Johnson and a kill from Wedhorn.
Within one point, the Demons looked to pull off the upset, but the Vikings pulled away for the 25-21 win, capped of by a thunderous kill from sophomore Delaney Eckhart.
In the second set, Glenwood and Valley battled to a 12-all tie midway through the set as an ace from Glenwood senior Maya Erickson, a block by senior Saylor Warren and a couple of kills from Wedhorn paced the Glenwood attack.
The two teams stayed close throughout the rest of the set with neither team pulling away for more than a three-point lead before Glenwood stormed back to make it 24-23 late on kills from Erickson and Wedhorn, but a serving error by Glenwood gave the Vikings the two-set sweep, pushing them into the championship game against the Palisade Bulldogs while the Demons prepared for the fifth-place game against the Delta Panthers.
Taking on the Panthers in the second round of the championship bracket with fifth and sixth place on the line, the Demons came out red-hot, playing some of their best volleyball in a three-set sweep, topping the Panthers by scores of 25-17, 25-16 and 25-17 to secure fifth place in the highly-contested tournament.
Against the Panther in the first set, it was a tight battle before Glenwood took an 18-15 lead, forcing a Delta timeout after a huge killl from Wedhorn. Coming out of the quick timeout, Glenwood went to work again, scoring five straight points off of kills from Wedhorn, Erickson and Johnson before a tip from Wedhorn finished off the first-set win for the Demons.
Much like the first set, the second set saw Delta take a timeout midway through the set, trailing the Demons by four points at 16-12. After the timeout, Glenwood continued to roll offensively, going on a 9-4 run to take a commanding 2-0 lead over the Panthers, setting up the third set.
In the final set between the two teams, it was all Glenwood again as Erickson and Wedhorn dominated at the net, propelling the Demons to the resounding three-set win to top the Panthers for fifth place in the tournament.
As the Demons celebrated, it was time for the Titans to try and lock up third place and a likely host seed in the 3A regional tournament of the state playoffs. All the Titans had to do was get past the Alamosa Mean Moose.
Easier said than done, unfortunately.
Against Alamosa, Coal Ridge struggled with communication and positioning defensively, which ultimately lead to a four-set loss.
The two teams fought hard in the first set, finding themselves tied a 15-all midway through the set. A timeout by Coal Ridge three points later with Alamosa ahead 18-15 had a similar affect as the Glenwood game as Alamosa went on a 4-1 run to take a 22-16 lead before eventually winning the first set 25-22.
Coal Ridge looked like a completely different team in the second set as the Titans raced out to a 10-8 lead, forcing an Alamosa timeout.
Following the break, Coal Ridge went on an astounding 15-1 to dominate the Mean Moose as a block from Alexa Wiescamp and some incredible serving by senior Santana Martinez closed out the 25-9 win in the second set.
Riding high after the win in set two, the Titans looked to take control of the match, but the Mean Moose had other plans, taking advantage of communication errors and lapses in positioning on the floor to win the third set 25-20, setting up a pivotal fourth set between the two teams.
In the fourth and final set, Coal Ridge fought to stay close to Alamosa despite being a bit disorganized defensively. But after taking a 15-12 lead on a tip from senior Ashley Ramirez, the Mean Moose pulled away for a 25-18 win, stunning the home crowd at Coal Ridge High School.
“It’s very frustrating when you feel like the effort’s just not there,” Coal Ridge Aimee Gerber said. “Yesterday against Valley, we didn’t have the effort. Today, I feel like after the second game against Alamosa, we had some complacency. They just weren’t able to work through it today. Alamosa saved some balls and made some key plays and absolutely earned the win. It doesn’t feel good for us, but I think we learned some key lessons that will hopefully prepare us for next weekend in the regional playoffs. “
By losing to Alamosa, Coal Ridge will have to sweat out the selection process for a host bid in the 3A regional playoffs. If the Titans would have topped Alamosa on their home floor, they’d likely have locked up a spot, but now it’s up to the RPI rankings and the selection committee.
“I told the girls after the game that it doesn’t matter where we play at now,” Gerber said. “The battle right now is within our own team. It’s not as if the team is fighting with each other, it’s just there needs to be more of a point of fighting for each other. We need to be more consistent and start giving everything we have. There’s a lot of emotions going on right now and they’re trying to figure out why they struggled in this tournament, but that’s why we had this tournament with some of the best teams.”
Coal Ridge and Glenwood Springs will now await the 3A and 4A regional playoff bracket selection process, which should be completed Monday afternoon.