Titans go the distance against Olathe
PEACH VALLEY – Sierra Grove to Chloe Nelson.The combination worked wonders – particularly in a decisive fifth game – as Coal Ridge sweated out a marathon win in Saturday’s Class 3A Western Slope League volleyball opener against Olathe.Grove racked up assists and Nelson the kills, and the two dazzled under pressure as the Titans won by game counts of 14-25, 25-14, 25-17, 18-25, 15-8.”It feels amazing,” said Nelson, a junior outside hitter. “Our team thrived on pressure. Before, we struggled with it and crumbled.”
Nelson was referring to past Titan teams. Coal Ridge, now in its third year, might just be coming of age as far as volleyball is concerned.”You can’t have any more pressure in volleyball than a fifth game to 15,” coach Denise Greene said. “I’m just happy that we’re playing the way we practice. We have lots of experience, and just to have that maturity. The girls are getting older and starting to understand and compete.”It was quite the start to league play for a squad that won just two league contests all last season. After losing the opener by a wide margin, the Titans bounced back to take the second and third games. They rallied back from a 9-2 deficit in Game 4 to pull as close as 20-18, but the visiting Tigers forced a fifth go-around by closing with five straight points.
Grove, the team’s junior setter, kicked off the fifth game with a big block and senior Callie Schlegel came up with big serves to help Coal Ridge build a 4-0 lead. Three straight kills by the hard-hitting Nelson – all assisted by Grove – enabled the Titans to extend the edge to 7-1.Nelson added another kill and finished with five in the final game while Schlegel chipped in two big kills for the win, which pushed Coal Ridge to 4-3 overall.Grove and Nelson definitely work well together on the court, having played together since the seventh grade. And they’re also pretty familiar with one another off the court, with many of the same classes.”We’re together all day and then we go to practice after,” said Nelson, the more talkative of the two.
From the net attack to the defense coming up with big digs, Nelson saw Saturday play out as a team effort.”This is the first game where I feel really everyone contributed as much as everyone else,” she said, reiterating, “the first time.”And the junior duo feels this is just the beginning of a breakout year.”It’ll be a big year,” she said with a smile. “The biggest.”
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