Titans sweep Demons to start season
Getting some first-game jitters out of the way early, the Coal Ridge Titans’ girls volleyball team rolled to a season-opening sweep, Saturday, of the visiting Ridgway Demons by scores 24-14, 25-22 and 25-7 to move to 1-0 on the season.
Looking to defend their 3A Western Slope League regular season and district tournament titles, the Titans barely skipped a beat in Saturday’s matchup with the small 2A District 3 team as seniors Nicole Mooney, Kaitlyn Harlow and Dana Kotz led the way, while junior Cassie Greene and sophomore Kara Morgan chipped in on the outside, where the Titans dominated all game long.
“They did a good job of spreading it around,” Coal Ridge Head Coach Aimee Gerber said. “We’ve worked really hard on spreading it around knowing that outside is going to be key. We’ve worked hard on it and I was really happy with how well the girls played.”
Early in game one it was apparent that the Titans were figuring out a way to attack the Demons defense, resulting in a close game midway through with the Titans clinging to a 9-7 lead behind kills from Greene, Morgan and Harlow.
With the majority of the points coming from outside hitters, the Titans shifted their play to that area of the court, resulting in a quick 9-1 run as Morgan and Mooney took over on the outside, while junior Santana Martinez excelled at serving, picking up a big ace in the middle of the Coal Ridge run.
An ace and a kill from Harlow sealed the win in game one for the Titans.
From there, that’s where things got a bit testy for the experienced Coal Ridge squad.
Tied early on in game two at 7-7, the Titans pulled away for a 17-13 lead behind ace’s from Morgan and Mooney, along with kills from Greene, Mooney and Kotz, but that’s when the foot seemed to come off the gas for Coal Ridge.
Ridgway quickly took advance at tied it at 17-17 before later tying it again at 22-22, putting the second game in jeopardy for the Titans.
“We definitely started to play it safe,” Mooney said. “We weren’t really hitting the ball as hard as we could, so we weren’t getting as many kills and they were able to set up their offense and get kills against us. Fortunately were able to pick it up and get going again.”
Two straight kills from Mooney and a block from Kotz gave the Titans the close win in game two.
Behind the outside play to close the second game, Coal Ridge picked right back up where they left off in game three as the Titans raced out to an 8-3 lead behind a kill and an ace from Harlow, along with a kill and two aces from Mooney.
Coal Ridge eventually got out to a 20-6 lead to run away from the Demons for the dominant 25-7 win in game three, capping off the sweep.
“This definitely feels good to get the season off to a good start with a win,” Mooney said. “Especially with the new RPI system going into place this year. Our coaches preach that every point and every game counts, so it’s nice to get the season started off with a good win.”
In the win, Mooney led the way with 10 kills, while Greene and Harlow had nine and six kills apiece.
Morgan chipped in with four of her own.
Kotz added 29 assists, while Harlow tallied five blocks.
Martinez and junior Emily Wright tied for the team lead with nine digs each, while Martinez added four aces.
Mooney and Harlow chipped in with three aces each.
Despite the sweep of Ridgway, the Titans still have room to grow and improve according to Gerber, who enters her second season in charge of a terrific program.
“We just have to take it game-by-game,” Gerber said. “For us, it’s all about intensity, and I think that was there in the third game. There were some jitters today and we need to work on that and realize that we need to be as scrappy as the next team we play.”
The Titans will travel to Paonia, Sept. 6, for a matchup against the Eagles.
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