Fri May 7th, 2021
Special to the Drum
Tags: 2A/1A San Juan Basin League, Alexis Pontine, Cass Rikkers, Ebonee Gomez, Emily Cundiff, Emma Berwanger, Grace Gonzales, Ignacio Bobcats, Jazmin Carmenoros, Jenna Brown, Lady Demons, Lady Miners, Marisa Carmenoros, Melanie Seibel, Vanessa Gonzales, Volleycats
Last Spring 2021 win comes at Mancos
Having visited Telluride the night before for a quickly-arranged THS Senior Night match – one having no bearing on the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League standings; the teams’ home-and-home had long been completed – which the Lady Miners claimed 25-19, 25-21 and 25-18. Ridgway’s players obviously sought similar swan-song magic for themselves as they then hosted Ignacio Saturday afternoon, April 24.
And with the Volleycats minus two pieces of their complex 6-2 offensive puzzle, RHS managed to not only send a class of six towards graduation with one final volleyball victory – by a 25-21, 28-26, 21-25, 25-15 result – to their collective name, but also salvage a .500 record from the COVID-compressed Spring 2021 campaign.
“Coming in cold, learning how to work together … this schedule really took a hit on a lot of our players,” IHS head coach Melanie Seibel had previously said, prior to a season-ending week also including an April 20 Senior Day home test versus SJBL force Dolores and a 4/22 trip to nothing-to-lose Mancos. “It sure did.”
“And we’ve found out we’ve got to play hard, work together and … have ‘no mercy,’” explained Seibel.
Regretfully, too much charity was given to the motivated Lady Demons early on and the ’Cats – coming in off a 25-16, 25-19, 27-25 sweep of MHS – never really recovered, save for a Game 3 win in which Ignacio erased a 17-13 deficit and soon went on a deciding 6-1 run capped by a Trinity Strohl kill plus two subsequent un-returnable Strohl serves.
But after wresting a shaky 6-4 lead away from Ridgway in Game 4, IHS would get no nearer to triumph – or at least a tiebreaking Game 5 – than 9-9 via junior Alexis Pontine’s stuff of RHS senior Shelby Sisler. Ignacio’s ensuing serve sailed out of bounds, Lady Demon senior Emma Berwanger then scored with a block on Strohl, and Sisler followed with a successful set dump.
The ’Cats then lost another point due to a net violation, and another when senior JV call-up Emily Cundiff smacked long a potential kill. Lady Demon senior Cass Rikkers then gave the guests a brief break when she netted a serve, but a Sisler kill then restarted the home team on what would be a devastating 7-0 spree – all but putting RHS, up 21-10 at that time, in the clear.
A Pontine ace of Berwanger brought Ignacio back to 23-14, and an oddly un-passable Laci Brunson free ball kept the ’Cats within nine, 24-15, but junior Lexy Young then served long with IHS needing a miracle.
“They did show up and work hard,” said Seibel, whose program will also lose six seniors, counting Ridgway match-day scratches Marisa Carmenoros and Vanessa Gonzales, plus inactive JV/V ‘swinger’ Jazmin Carmenoros as well as long-injured libero-turned-team manager Ebonee Gomez. “But we had to reorganize our players [from] our first [match] against them, come with a different lineup.”
Sophomore Grace Gonzales finished with 12 kills against eight errors in 39 total attacks for a .077 percentage; IHS, unfortunately, finished -.031 as a team. Strohl, also a sophomore, managed eight kills at a break-even .000 clip, and Pontine officially downed four at .000 while logging 22 assists as Ignacio’s sole setter and also totaling a team-high six aces.
Inexplicably bookending IHS’ Game 1 setback, two Pontine service-line misfires were amongst the Volleycats’ alarming eight helping gift RHS the opener – though the ’Cats crept back to as close as 21-20, apparently having survived an earlier 8-0 Ridgway blast which put the Lady Demons up 14-7.
Neither side led by more than two points in Game 2 until RHS reached 24-21 via senior Jenna Brown’s ace of Brunson. But a Gonzales kill, plus a Rikkers hitting error, a botched serve reception by Lady Demon junior Bella Janda, and a perfect Young ace to the opposite corner put the ’Cats ahead 25-24.
After matters then levelled at 25-25 and 26-26 (the 19th and 20th ties-of-score in Game 2 alone), Ridgway would take a 2-0 lead in the match via a Gonzales serve long and a Pontine netted pass on a play where Brown appeared to first double-touch a free ball – the relieved ‘OOOOOOH!’ emanating from RHS’ own student section was rather indicative – ultimately destined for a shocked and ill-prepared Pontine.
Defensively, Gonzales’ 16 digs in defeat not only equaled Pontine’s team-high but gave her a double-double. Brunson, a sophomore, also breached double digits with ten ups from her libero position, and savored an unexpected cameo role on offense in dishing out five assists. Strohl – who, like Young, served four aces – logged eight digs and senior Charlize Valdez five.
Statistics for Ridgway had not been fully tallied as of press time; the Lady Demons finished 7-7 overall, 7-6 against all SJBL opposition, and a third-place 4-4 against the league’s 2A members. Leapfrogged on that ladder by the girls in green, Ignacio compiled a fourth-place 3-5 mark, but finished 6-5 against all league resistance while ending up 6-7 overall.
At Mancos, Pontine registered a 12-kill, 14-dig, 15-assist triple-double, with eight aces nearly completing a rare quad. Setting companion Marisa Carmenoros booked 14 assists, eight digs, four kills and four aces. Valdez and Grace Gonzales each spiked six kills and each also came up with a half-dozen digs, while Brunson (3 assists) came up with 13.
Posting a 21-assist, 14-kill, 10-dig triple-double, Pontine was again one of many bright spots for IHS in a 22-25, 26-24, 22-25, 27-25, 11-15 loss to Dolores. Carmenoros amassed 15 assists and 12 digs, while Gonzales totaled eight kills and 13 digs – that number trailing only Brunson’s team-high 15 – and Young six kills.
Telluride’s season came to an end Saturday, May 1, with a 3-1 loss to Vail Mountain and a 3-0 loss to Holyoke at the VM-hosted 2A-Region VIII Championships. Dolores, meanwhile, qualified for the Region VI meet held in nearby Edwards, but lost 3-0 to tourney-hosting Vail Christian and then 3-0 to Del Norte.
On the 1A side of things, Dove Creek’s State dreams were dashed in the 1A-Region V Championships. After defeating Vilas-based South Baca County in four, the Lady Bulldogs (6-0 1A SJBL, 10-0 2A/1A SJBL, 12-3 overall) then fell in three to Joes-based Stratton/Liberty.
Girls Volleyball Final 2A SJBL Standings