Fri Sep 18th, 2015
Special to the Drum
Tags: 2A/1A San Juan Basin League, Avionne Gomez, C.J. Rabinowitz, chrystianne valdez, CHSAANow.com, Durango, ellie seibel, Grand Junction Caprock Academy, Kelly Campbell, Lady Trojans, Miel Diaz, Monte Vista, ouray, Sarah Pankow, Shoshone Thompson, Thad Cano, Volleycats
Arriving later to IHS Gymnasium than she’d undoubtedly liked, Sarah Pankow did have a legitimate reason which her head coach already knew: She’d been in Durango, taking the ACT exam.
Unfortunately for C.J. Rabinowitz, Pankow was the lone senior on her roster doing so.
Currently counting five freshmen and two sophomores for 2015, 2A/1A San Juan Basin League squads don’t get much younger than the Ouray which visited the Volleycats – one year removed and improved from a similar situation – on Saturday, Sept. 12.
“It’s only, like, our third time playing together!” laughed Pankow. “But we’ll get it together.”
Ignacio boss Thad Cano knows how that can happen, how slowly or swiftly, and at last saw his side do so for the first time this season at the Lady Trojans’ expense, sweeping a 25-14, 25-12, 25-18 win.
“Everyone has to respect Ouray; they’re a tough serving team … the best serving I’ve seen out of that program,” he said afterwards, having seen some of the malleable tendencies his side displayed last fall.
“I stopped, tried to let every player from Ouray know how amazing they’re doing, let their head coach know how amazing they’re doing. They’re coming along very well … working very hard.”
Having fallen at home to non-league 1A Grand Junction Caprock Academy the night before, however, OHS simply lacked fuel to fight IHS, more rested from an incredible 22-25, 26-28, 25-21, 25-16, 12-15 home loss on the 10th to 3A Monte Vista.
“It was a big one,” said senior libero Chrystianne Valdez. “If you look at the scores they’re all really, really close, and if you watched us play…we played as a team, played together for probably the first time this season, and it was great!”
“Our normal ‘hard’ serving, we scaled that back probably by 30 percent and went strictly for placement against Ouray,” Cano said. “It was important we know how to place to every zone, and the girls did amazing.”
Sometimes content with swapping mistakes and points, Ouray started game one playing Ignacio to an even 7-7 tie. But after the Cats got the next score and put junior Kelly Campbell on serve, Rabinowitz was pressed into a timeout down 12-7 and sensing the guests’ window of opportunity was already closing.
“We still had to cover our hitters, watch the tips, watch the free-balls … we still had to do everything that we did with Monte Vista, just on a different level,” senior Miel Diaz said. “With Ouray it was more easy-going, in a way. It was more relaxed because we were more energized, but it was still fun!”
Diaz polished off game one with a service ace off OHS soph Courtney Alvarez, and after IHS soph Shoshone Thompson netted game two’s first offering, Ignacio responded by winning the next seven points – two via Alex Forsythe aces after Rabinowitz again tried regrouping her players – and 12 of the next 13 en route to building up a double-digit advantage.
Ouray (0-3, 0-1 SJBL) got no closer than 13-7 on a Pankow over-pass putaway, and Ignacio sophomore Avionne Gomez soon put the locals up 2-0 in the match with a cross-court kill from the left side.
The Lady Trojans, however, rallied themselves beginning game three and forced Cano to call his only timeout clinging to a 10-8 lead. Senior Ellie Seibel then sent an attack long, but the ’Cats (1-2, 1-0) then went on a 9-2 run to break free, and a Forsythe finish ultimately ended the afternoon.
Forsythe had notched a team-high 11 kills versus MVHS and Diaz seven as Thompson distributed 26 assists, and Forsythe again led IHS with five kills versus OHS. Diaz, Valdez, Campbell and Seibel each had four kills and Thompson finished with 12 helpers. Ignacio also totaled 15 blocks in the two outings, with Diaz’s five (4 solo, 1 assist) tops against Monte Vista and Campbell’s three (3s, 0a) the most against Ouray.
Valdez and Seibel each totaled 16 digs defensively, and Forsythe fired a team-high nine of IHS’ 34 aces.
The Cats were to play next at Mancos on Sept. 17th, but results were unavailable at press time. Ignacio’s schedule then shows a trip north to No. 6-ranked [CHSAANow.com Class 2A poll, 9/8; IHS was ‘Receiving Votes’] Ridgway on the 19th, with the long haul east to the Simla Invitational following on the 26th.
“Our serving’s working really, really good, but when we face teams that can pass a little better we’re going to put a little more heat on” said Cano. “Then get that free-ball coming back over … and we have to be able to terminate when that comes over to us. So that’s going to be the game plan!”