Titans spoil Cardinals’ party
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
PEACH VALLEY, Colorado ” Cupcakes and a birthday serenade from his Grand Valley volleyball players met a bittersweet reception from David Walck.
On one hand, the first-year Grand Valley coach was grateful to his Cardinals for recognizing his 37th birthday. On the other hand, Walck’s a competitive man and his team had just suffered a three-game loss at Coal Ridge.
But experience against top teams ” and, at 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the 3A Western Slope League, that’s exactly what Coal Ridge is ” is precisely what the former Rangely coach knows his young team needs to blossom.
“We gained some experience,” Walck said of his squad, which features two just two seniors. “It’s another piece we need.”
Walck’s Cardinals flashed moments of brilliance against the 3A Western Slope League leaders, but Jessica Needham, Chloe Nelson and the Titans proved too much to overcome.
Needham finished with 10 kills and Nelson slammed six as Coal Ridge emphatically shut the door on any upset hopes. Also figuring heavily into the statistical mix was Britney Smith at the net with her three blocks.
Hitting was just one of the many positives of Coal Ridge’s attack.
“I thought we were just ready to play,” said Coal Ridge coach Denise Greene, whose team won by game counts of 25-12, 25-18 and 25-16. “We were really focused on our serve and serve receive. We were aggressive and focused on siding out as quickly as we can. We were mixing up our offenses.”
Since being taken to five games by Roaring Fork in a Saturday win, Greene’s squad hasn’t lost a game. The Titans rolled past defending league champion Basalt in three on Tuesday before Thursday’s three-gamer.
It’s Coal Ridge’s experience, notes setter Sierra Grove, that’s carrying the Titans in 2008.
“We’ve all been playing together really well,” said Grove, one of Coal Ridge’s seven seniors. “Most of us have been playing together since middle school.”
And that’s something that shows on the court. Grove, one of the 3A WSL’s top setters, found teammates on 16 assists.
Grand Valley, which dropped to 2-3 in the 3A WSL and to 3-5 overall, is still building its chemistry.
“I think they wanted to see how they measured up to them,” Walck said. “I don’t think they were happy with the way they performed. I think they absolutely want to get to that point. There are lots of things we can improve on and they want to improve on.”
Karmen Steimel and Erin Vanderpool paced Walck’s Cardinals with five kills apiece, and Brittney Garcia had 12 assists.
Next on the schedule for both teams is Olathe. Grand Valley hits the road to face the Pirates on Saturday, while the Titans head there on Tuesday.
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After losing the 3A Western Slope League race in a tough, five-set loss to Basalt on April 15, the Coal Ridge High volleyball team finds its playoff fate partly out of its own hands.