Fri Apr 23rd, 2021
Special to the Drum
Tags: Alexis Pontine, Bobcats Volleyball, CHSAA, COVID-19, Grace Gonzales, IHS, Lady Demons, Lady Miners, Lexy Young, Marisa Carmenoros, Melanie Seibel, Playing Defense, Regular-season, Ridgway Coach, Sarah Firkins, Season winding down, Senior Emily Medina, Team Performance, Winning Record
Earlier during this Spring 2021 volleyball season, Ridgway head coach Sarah Firkins was, to say the least, underwhelmed by her team’s performance in a 24-26, 20-25, 26-24, 11-25 road loss at Ignacio.
“What I saw … against Telluride was completely different,” she’d said before exiting IHS Gymnasium, referring to the Lady Demons’ season-opening effort four days earlier, producing a 3-0 sweep of the up-and-coming Lady Miners, “and I’m excited for Ignacio to come to our house; I think the tables will turn around a little bit.”
“We have to learn a lot about our coverage … a lot about the small things, then move forward … focus on our future,” said senior Emily Medina. “We expect the ’Cats to come hard when they come into our gym, but we’re going to push … as we can.”
And with both sides slated to cap off one of the pandemic-condensed campaign’s busiest calendar weeks clashing Saturday, April 24, in their mutual regular-season finale, a remarkable rematch should be anticipated.
A start time at RHS had been a question mark, but as of press time had reverted from 11 a.m. to the original 1 p.m. Reason being, the Volleycats’ listed 4/17 trip to Dove Creek had been a COVID-related cancellation with a make-up scenario including meeting – while returning from Ridgway – the Lady Bulldogs on the 24th at 5 p.m. with neutral Dolores High the site.
Unfortunately more recent developments on DCHS’ end nixed that dicey doubleheader altogether, and though it means Ignacio won’t get to test their late-season mettle against the latest CHSAANow.com Class 1A rankings’ No. 10 team, it does mean the crew can concentrate on their third 2A-level San Juan Basin League contest in five critical days.
Entering the April 19 week, the ’Cats stood 5-5 overall, 5-3 against all 2A/1A SJBL resistance and 2-3 against the circuit’s 2A programs. With results of an important 4/14 home match versus Mancos not yet reported, RHS commenced work standing 4-5 both overall and against all SJBL teams, but 2-4 on the 2A side.
Prior to welcoming IHS, Ridgway will have played both local rival 1A Ouray and 1A Nucla away; Ignacio, respectively, will have hosted DHS (8-4, 8-2 SJBL, 6-1 2A SJBL) and traveled to 2A Mancos on the same April 20 and April 22 dates.
With varsity fixture Marisa Carmenoros, V/JV ‘swingers’ Charlize Valdez, Vanessa Gonzales and Jazmin Carmenoros, plus JV anchor Emily Cundiff all likely to close out their senior season – as of 4/19 the ’Cats stood 39th in CHSAA’s Class 2A RPI figures; Dolores and Telluride ranked 23rd and 24th, respectively, with only 24 teams advancing to the postseason – at RHS, expect the ’Cats to claw for all they can.
“It’s just learning how to work together, cover each other and trust,” head coach Melanie Seibel summarized recently. “Our mistakes give (opponents) points, so it’s about us staying focused the whole time.”
“We slack here and there on communication … coming together as one,” said sophomore Grace Gonzales. “Playing defense – staying in our base, watching the ball and learning to read hitters – we’ve just got to take our time and make adjustments.”
Regionals – with league champions automatically in and all remaining qualifiers determined by CHSAA’s three-pronged RPI Seeding Criteria for inclusion in any one of the eight three-team brackets – are currently set for Saturday, May 1, unless the Association grants approval for any earlier date(s).
Only the eight surviving squads will then advance to the May 10-11, 2021, single-elimination State Championships, to be held at the 2020-opened, 10-court NORCO Volleyball Facility in Loveland (NORCO’s former 6-court base was in Windsor).
COMING IN HOT
Prior to hosting Dolores on the 20th, Ignacio most recently handled business on the 10th. Hosting both Nucla and Ouray, the Volleycats notched back-to-back sweeps – first dispatching the struggling Lady Mustangs 25-8, 25-26-24, 25-20, and later the winless Lady Trojans 25-19, 25-15, 25-12.
Grace Gonzales put down eight kills and junior Alexis Pontine seven against NHS, with Marisa Carmenoros booking five as Pontine spread around 14 assists and Carmenoros seven with Gonzales even logging four for good measure. IHS also burned Nucla for 17 service aces, highlighted by junior Lexy Young’s six.
Pontine came up with ten digs defensively for a double-double, while sophomore libero Laci Brunson led with 11, Gonzales booked eight and Young six.
Against OHS Pontine powered down 14 kills to go with 16 assists, seven digs and six aces. Carmenoros dished out 17 assists as Gonzales hammered ten kills, complementing her own half-dozen aces. Young and sophomore Harmony Reynolds combined for ten kills offensively (the ’Cats as a whole hit a solid .356), while defensively Brunson recorded six digs and both Carmenoros and Valdez four each.