Titans fifth, Cards eighth at Grand Valley Invite
PARACHUTE – They fought and battled to the end but came up just a few points shy.After losing the first game 25-16 to Paonia, the Grand Valley Cardinals volleyball team came back to win game two (28-26) before falling 15-13 in game three of their final match of the eight-team Grand Valley Invitational on Saturday. In a nail-biter game two, the Cards sealed the win on their third game-point opportunity, earning it on a Lauren Schubert ace. After falling behind 14-11 in game three, Grand Valley bounced back to make it 14-13, but committed a few errors to give Paonia the win. “I am really impressed with their character, their perseverance and everything,” said Cards’ first-year head coach Jenni Hirneisen. “They are just amazing me.”Whitney Ashcraft led the team with six kills in the match, along with three blocks. Samantha James recorded four kills and four aces, while Lyndsey Tonder and Amanda Gunter each posted three blocks and three kills. Although the Cards finished eighth in the tourney with a 1-4 record, Hirneisen was happy with the team’s progress. “I really kinda planned on this being a building year, but they have improved so much in the last two weeks,” she said. “I am so happy with everything they have done.”Backed by strong serving, the Coal Ridge volleyball team pulled out victories in its last two matches to take fifth place in the tourney.In the fifth-place match, the Titans easily downed Telluride 2-0 (25-11, 25-12). Coal Ridge dropped in nine aces against the Miners, giving them more than they could dig. Chloe Nelson accounted for six of those and also led the Titans with five kills. “We focus a lot on serving, it is critical,” said Coal Ridge head coach Denise Green. “And they served well.”Jessica Needham added three kills and four blocks for Coal Ridge.Before their final matches of the day, the Cardinals and the Titans faced off. The first game went back-and-forth until both teams were locked at 23 points. Callie Schlegel then took control, throwing down a kill and following that with an ace to give Coal Ridge a game one victory.Schlegel led the Titans in kills in game two, picking up four as the Titans won 25-18 to take the match. Grand Valley played good defense, digging up numerous high-speed spikes from Schlegel and Nelson, but the Titans, who had four aces to the Cardinals’ zero, were too much for Grand Valley.”It was up and down. The skills are there, it’s just the mental focus and getting back into the mental aspect of playing a match,” Greene said of her team’s play in the tournament. “But I was pleased overall.”In pool play earlier Saturday, Coal Ridge got off on the right foot by downing Vail Christian 2-0 (25-19, 26-24). The Titans then lost their last two matches 2-0 to Rangely (25-23, 25-14) and 2-0 to Paonia (25-19, 25-20.) Grand Valley, on the other hand, fell 2-0 to North Park (25-13, 25-14), 2-0 to Soroco (25-22, 25-19) and then beat Telluride in three games (25-10, 23-25, 15-9) in its pool play finale.Vail Christian won the tournament, defeating North Park 2-0 in the championship.
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