Coal Ridge volleyball survives scare in Aspen
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – More matches like this and Coal Ridge volleyball coach Scott Black will run out of stress balls.
Black watched his team bounce back from a 7-0 deficit to pull out a Game 1 win in Tuesday’s match in Aspen, then squander leads in both Games 2 and 4. The Titans stood tall in the decisive game, however, to seal a five-game win (25-23, 21-25, 25-16, 19-25, 15-12) over the winless Skiers.
“My C Team coach brings me a different one very game,” said Black, holding a yellow ball that he squeezed for much of the two-hour match. “I tend to tear them up, but this one seems pretty strong.”
That ball got quite a workout. Aspen capitalized on five Coal Ridge errors and a kill from Bailey Everhart to jump out to an early lead in Game 1, prompting Black to burn a timeout. Later, the Skiers’ Mary Beasley and Everhart drilled kills through blocks to stretch the lead to eight at 20-12.
But the problems that have plagued Aspen all season – the errant digs, poor service game and miscommunication – cropped up down the stretch. The Titans closed on a 13-3 run, one fueled by some strong play at the net from Samantha Torres and Zoe Reece, to take a one-game lead.
“The girls not being able to close out that first game, that was a huge turn of momentum,” Skiers head coach Clay Dahlman said. “That’s one I like to look back on a think would have set a different tone for the match.”
The teams exchanged the lead four different times during a tight second game in which neither squad led by more than six points. Aspen (0-14 overall, 0-11 3A Western Slope) broke open a one-point game with a 7-2 run to give themselves a 21-15 cushion. During the stretch, Everhart picked up an ace and a kill and the Titans committed four costly miscues.
Coal Ridge (5-8, 4-6) pulled to within one at 22-21, but Caroline Kelley and Linsey Dodaro converted three kills to square the match.
After the Titans cruised in Game 3, the Skiers proved resilient once more. With the game knotted at 17, Everhart executed a perfect drop shot, sparking 8-2 run. Anderson closed with three three straight kills to force a deciding fifth game.
“[Inconsistency] has been our problem all year,” said Black, whose team needed five games to top Aspen on Sept. 8. “We’re playing [down] to our competition a lot of the times. The teams below us are the ones I’m worried about losing to. Those are the ones you have to win if you want to get to regionals.”
The two teams exchanged the lead five different times in the opening minutes of Game 5, then Aspen missed a kill long, was whistled for a lift and Torres converted a kill to stretch Coal Ridge’s advantage to 10-7. Kelley pulled the Skiers to within two at 13-11 with a well-placed kill, but Jessica West answered right back with a kill of her own.
Anderson spoiled one game point with a kill – one of her team-high 10 – but the ensuing Skiers serve sailed wide.
Dahlman knows the feeling well.
“We had little lulls, and a couple of rotations where we had a huge issue scoring points. We had dominance within the set, but we haven’t been able to make it go all the way around,” added the Aspen coach, whose team has dropped three five-game matches this season. “It’s frustrating to come that far and not be able to pull it out. The girls want it so badly.”
The Skiers’ next chance to break into the win column comes at 6 p.m. Friday against visiting Grand Valley. The Titans, who are currently in sixth place in the conference (the top five advance to regional play) host Gunnison at 3 p.m. Friday.
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