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Titans serving up bright future

GRAND JUNCTION – “Remember the Titans” is no longer applicable when discussing Coal Ridge High School’s volleyball team. Instead, the new cry to opponents in the Class 3A Western Slope League has become “Beware of the Titans.”No, Coal Ridge didn’t pull off a major upset in Friday’s Class 3A, District 2 tournament or advance to today’s championship semifinals. Yet, the Titans’ play in each of their three matches left a big impression on each of their opponents, who will remember them when the next year rolls around.Instead of struggling with Gunnison, then Aspen, Coal Ridge was competitive in losses to both teams.The Titans lost two of their three games to the No. 2 seeded Cowboys by a combined total of nine points. Coal Ridge held the lead multiple times in game three of Gunnison’s 3-0 (25-21, 25-8, 25-20) sweep.The unforced errors that kept popping up were a problem for the Titans early. Between a rash of unreturnable volleys and multi-hit violations, Gunnison junior Kelsey Huckle ran off a string of kills to add distance between the Cowboys and Coal Ridge in games one and two.Then, in game three, the Titans caught fire. Three scoring streaks allowed Coal Ridge to take a 14-10 lead, forcing Gunnison into calling time out to regroup. The shock aroused the Cowboys into a 9-1 scoring run afterwards to close out the match.Facing Aspen next, the Titans improved. Down 1-0, Coal Ridge pinned a 25-23 defeat on the Skiers in game two of an eventual 3-1 loss that mathematically eliminated the Titans from advancing to the championship round.In that game, Sierra Grove’s block opened the door for the Titans to take a 10-8 lead. That advantage grew to 19-12 a few exchanges later, until Aspen rallied back from the five-point deficit to a 23-all tie. Coal Ridge scored the last of its two points off Aspen miscues for the win.Roaring Fork, despite identical 3-0 defeats to Basalt and Hotchkiss, also had its moments of brilliance. Mostly provided by senior Erica Pelland.When Pelland got her hands on the ball, good things seemed to happen for the Rams.She was especially dominant in the Olathe match, where a skein of jump-serve-fueled aces pushed Roaring Fork to a 22-18 lead.The one thing Pelland couldn’t make up for was the Rams’ inconsistency of getting the ball back over the net. The early losses dropped them out of contention for one of today’s four available semifinal round berthsIn later Friday pool-play matches, Coal Ridge lost its final match of the year in three games to Cedaredge (25-23, 25-16, 25-15). Roaring Fork fell in four games to Olathe in its final match.Basalt, Gunnison, Hotchkiss and Aspen all advanced to today’s semifinal round. With Basalt already having won the WSL in the regular season, the Longhorns are guaranteed a spot in regionals. The other three teams will battle for the lone remaining regional place.


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