Fri Apr 9th, 2021
Special to the Drum
Tags: 1A Ouray, 1A Nucla, 2A/1A San Juan Basin League, Alexis Pontine, Bobcats Volleyball, fifth-game tiebreaker, Grace Gonzales, Ignacio Volleycats, longtime nemesis Dolores, Montezuma-Cortez, Volleycat over-pass, Zoe Rommel
IHS falls in four to both M-CHS, T-ride
Able to pick themselves up when needed, but often unable to keep unforced errors in check, the Ignacio Volleycats couldn’t push visiting Telluride to a fifth-game tiebreaker Saturday afternoon, April 3, and entered the new week on a three-match slide after falling 22-25, 25-23, 20-25, 19-25.
“We remembered the last game,” said head coach Melanie Seibel, referring to IHS’ trip to THS exactly one week earlier. “We saw where they were hitting, saw that tipping and so we did our best to make sure we were covering each other, communicating with each other. It’s just learning how to work together, cover each other and trust.”
“We didn’t give up, tried very hard on defense,” sophomore Grace Gonzales said. “But we slack here and there on communication … coming together as one.”
Ignacio slipped to 3-4 overall, 3-2 in the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League (2-2 2A SJBL) following the setback – which came on the heels of the previous night’s 18-25, 17-25, 25-20, 15-25 loss to undefeated Montezuma-Cortez (5-0, 4-0 3A Intermountain), at the time ranked No. 11 in the CHSAANow.com Class 3A poll.
Neither the ’Cats nor the visiting Lady Miners had tallied individual numbers as of press time, but in a match where continuity was regularly disrupted by anything from netted serves to rotation violations to rallies lasting little more than a couple seconds, first-year THS’ own first-year skipper indicated relief at having come out of their opponents’ house victorious.
“I’d say our x-factor is just that they’re able to kind of control their emotions,” said Corinne Cavender, a former defensive rock for and 2015 graduate of Grand Rapids (Mich.) Forest Hills Central not even two full years removed from her studies at Grand Valley State (Allendale, Mich.) University.
“I think with every game they’re able to understand that as a team we do make a lot of mistakes, but that’s part of the game. Keep rolling with it, hope the other team makes more.”
“It’s definitely hard with the interruptions, but you’ve got to play through that,” said junior setter Ally Tealdi, who polished off the match roofing an over-passed IHS reception of substitute server Zoe Rommel’s offering. “And it helps when you get your serves over; that helps momentum and the team confidence.”
Winners of a third consecutive match – including a morale-boosting sweep of San Miguel County rival Norwood the night before – Telluride improved to 5-2 overall (5-2 SJBL; 3-2 2A SJBL) despite never fully subduing the ’Cats.
After a see-saw opening to Game 1, THS took the lead for good at 12-11 when heavy-hitting junior Emery Berry smashed a kill to offset a netted Tealdi serve. Senior Kyra Levan downed a spike to increase the Lady Miners’ lead to 20-14, but Ignacio scrapped back to as close as 22-20, 23-21 and 24-22 before libero Laci Brunson and setter Marisa Carmenoros couldn’t decide who should make second contact on a defended Levan attack.
Consecutive Berry aces helped the guests race out to a 4-1 lead in Game 2, and Seibel alertly called timeout. And after falling further behind, 7-2, her squad responded. A Carmenoros kill and Gonzales ace brought IHS back to 8-5, and the ’Cats clawed back into contention, finally reaching 18-all via back-to-back Harmony Reynolds kills over middle Emma Righetti.
Gonzales would hammer another kill to put Ignacio up 23-22, pressing Cavender to call time. Levan managed to push a mellow shot nearly parallel to the net and out of Gonzales’ reach, but the home team responded with kills by Gonzales and Charlize Valdez to even the match at one game apiece.
“They always put up a good fight; they’re always really scrappy, get all of our stuff up. So, I think it was very similar,” Tealdi said, comparing the match with the sides’ Mar. 27 encounter (a 25-17, 25-22, 25-22 Telluride win) inside the MinerDome. “They wanted it more – wanted to beat us – this time, but we came ready for that.”
Able to force Ignacio into a timeout down 7-3 in Game 3, the Lady Miners would let Ignacio equalize just once, at 9-9, but also saw the Volleycats draw as near as 21-20 via a Reynolds ace. But Reynolds then served long and THS senior Arabella Galbo followed with a kill through the middle, then drew Valdez into a centerline violation attempting to defend her next swing.
Aptly imitating M-CHS junior Avery Wright (who crushed 18 kills; senior Myka Glover booked 14), Berry then blasted a kill down the left line to put the visitors up 2-1 in the best-of-five. That advantage, however, quickly came under fire in Game 4; Ignacio wasted little time going up 4-0 and ultimately 7-2 before a Berry kill pulled Telluride level at 9-9.
IHS junior Alexis Pontine countered with a firm and well-placed tip, but then netted on serve. Berry then smacked a ball wide, but re-composed herself to splatter her next two chances and put the Lady Miners up 12-11. Ignacio would re-tie at 14 when Gonzales successfully jousted a ball with Lady Miner senior Morgan Watkinson, but Watkinson answered in kind the ensuing exchange and Levan followed with a kill.
Righetti then disposed of a Volleycat over-pass and Ignacio would get no closer than 17-16 the rest of the way, though Cavender smartly took a timeout up 22-19, concerned by a Carmenoros kill followed by Levan and Righetti hitting errors.
“If they miss a serve or miss hits, they just get in their heads and stop believing … instead of being able to, like, brush it off,” she explained. “I think that’s what was happening with both teams; it was really, really mental those last couple games.”
“Playing defense, staying in our base, watching the ball and learning how to read the hitter … . We’ve just got to take our time and make adjustments,” said Gonzales.
Up next, the Volleycats will entertain both 1A Nucla (11 a.m. start) and 1A Ouray (3 p.m.) on Saturday, Apr. 10, while THS hosts 2A Mancos as SJBL play intensifies. Results from Ignacio’s 4/6 trip to longtime nemesis Dolores (at the time 5-3 overall, 5-2 league, 4-1 2A SJBL), as well as Telluride’s 4/8 visit to OHS were unavailable at press time.