Titans split day two matches of home tournament | PostIndependent.com

Titans split day two matches of home tournament

Coal Ridge senior Kaitlyn Harlow goes up to play the ball at the net against an Alamosa defender during Saturday's home tournament in New Castle.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

What a difference one day made for the Coal Ridge Titans’ girls volleyball team.

After a disappointing showing Friday at home on day one of their volleyball tournament, the Titans rebounded in a big way on Saturday to split their two matches against the Alamosa Maroons and the Battle Mountain Huskies.

Against the Maroons in the first game of the day for Coal Ridge, the experienced Titans quickly dispatched the overmatched Maroons by scores of 25-14 and 25-20 in the best of three round-robin tournament.

In game one against the Maroons, the Titans raced out to a 6-2 lead thanks to kills from Kaitlyn and Paige Harlow, forcing an early Alamosa timeout.

Coming out of the break, the Titans again went on a long run, highlighted by kills from Kaitlyn Harlow and Cassie Greene, forcing yet another Alamosa timeout with the Titans up 13-4 midway through the first set.

From there the Maroons ever really made it a game as two straight kills from Nicole Mooney made it 20-10 Coal Ridge, before a kill from Paige Harlow and a net violation on Alamosa gave Coal Ridge the 25-14 dominating win.

Looking to keep rolling in the second set, the Titans got off to a slow start, falling behind 7-2 before rallying behind kills from Dana Kotz, Paige Harlow and Kara Morgan. Trailing 9-8, Kaitlyn Harlow and Greene teamed up for a big combination block at the net to knot the second set at 9-9.

However, Alamosa would go on a 9-5 run to take an 18-14 lead. Not to be outdone though, the Titans would rally to tie it at 20-20 before a kill from Greene, blocks from Kaitlyn Harlow and Kotz, and an ace from Greene gave the Titans a tough come-from-behind 25-20 win over the Maroons.

“This was just a full-on group effort today,” Coal Ridge Head Coach Aimee Gerber said. “A lot of girls stepped up against Alamosa and played really well. We split with Alamosa this season, so we knew it was going to come down to who wanted it more. We wanted to keep our higher seed [in the tournament].”

After bouncing back from a rough showing Friday with a big win over Alamosa, the Titans had to wait a few hours to get back onto the court, where they’d take on the Battle Mountain Huskies.

Against the Huskies, the Titans had their hands full early despite holding an 8-5 lead thanks to kills from Mooney, Paige Harlow and Greene. After that point in the game though, the two teams traded points throughout as the game was tied five different times before the Huskies were able to pull away late for a 25-23 first-set win to knock off the Titans, who held a 23-20 lead late in the match.

In a sign of things to come, the Titans again raced out to a big lead, this time 8-2, in the second set behind kills from Mooney and Paige Harlow, a big block from Paige Harlow and an ace from Kaitlyn Harlow to put the Huskies on their heels. Later holding a 12-6 lead, the Titans were poised to run away with the second set as Kaitlyn and Paige Harlow really controlled the middle of the court, pushing the Titan lead to 21-12, but much like the first set, the Huskies put together a furious rally, storming all the way back to beat the Titans 26-24, stunning the veteran Coal Ridge squad likely playing its last home match of the season.

Down 2-0 in the match, Coal Ridge needed a big answer, and they got just that in the form of Mooney, Kotz and Paige Harlow in the third set as the trio put up some of their best individual performances of the season to propel Coal Ridge to the win.

Along with Mooney, Kotz and Paige Harlow, Kara Morgan came up big as well, scoring back-to-back kills late in the set to extend the Titan lead, allowing Coal Ridge to finish off the set on booming kill from Mooney.

Back in the fight down just 2-1 to the Huskies, Coal Ridge’s intensity certainly picked up in the fourth set as Mooney started off strong, recording a plethora of kills to push Coal Ridge out to a 7-5 lead. Trailing 8-7 a few moments later, Morgan came through with a big kill once again for the Titans, tying the set at 9-9, setting up a 6-2 run by the Titans to take a 15-11 lead.

But in shades of the first two sets, Battle Mountain would rally to tie the set at 17-17, setting up a fight to the finish.

Fortunately for Coal Ridge, the Titans were able to finish off the set behind kills from Kotz, Paige Harlow and Kaitlyn Harlow, sending the two teams into a decisive fifth set.

In the final set, the Titans got off to a slow start and found themselves trailing 9-3 before rallying to pull within 9-8. Unfortunately for the Titans though, the rally wouldn’t be enough as the Huskies would hold them off down the stretch to claim the 15-12 win in the set and the 3-2 win in the match overall.

“We played hard and we never quit today,” Gerber said. “I was so proud of every girl out there today. But those break downs in the first two sets are something we have to correct. It’s very frustrating to see that happen. I think that today, overall, was some of the best ball that they’ve played all season. They played with a ton of heart. I asked them to leave it all on the court today and they did; there’s nothing more I could have asked from them.”

The Titans now await the verdict on where they’ll be seeded in the 3A state playoffs. The announcement of where they’ll be seeded will come down on Sunday.

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