Ignacio's Sierra Red (14) serves against Ridgway, Saturday afternoon, Oct. 1, at RHS. Serving proved a potent weapon for the Volleycats, who defeated the Lady Demons twice (25-8, 25-10, 25-5; 25-15, 25-19, 25-16).
Ignacio's Solymar Cosio (20) blasts a kill shot against Ridgway's Sophia Scranton (6) during SJBL road action Saturday afternoon, Oct. 1, at RHS. Cosio totaled 21 kills as the Volleycats twice defeated the Lady Demons (25-8, 25-10, 25-5; 25-15, 25-19, 25-16).
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
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Ignacio travels, double-dips Lady Demons

Wins in Ridgway prep ’Cats for Homecoming Week

Laci Brunson thought she’d received a curtain-call exit from Ignacio’s second of two October 1 matches.

But as the opposing Lady Demons started threatening again to steal at least one stanza, going on a 4-0 run – three points coming via IHS errors and one via an Ava Janda dig which ricocheted back over the net and into empty space – bringing Ridgway back to 23-16 late in Game 3, head coach Shasta Pontine had to re-insert her senior setter.

Providing quality control, Brunson would then help sophomore Ollyvia Howe put down a cross-court roll shot bringing up match point, then set junior Solymar Cosio for a clinching kill through the middle – giving the Volleycats a 25-15, 25-19, 25-16 sweep following their 25-8, 25-10, 25-5 morning rout.

“The first (match) was a little better than the second; we just had silly errors like hitting the ball out, passes not being perfect, and even sets not being perfect,” said Brunson. “But it was good practice for the games that we’ll have this week.”

“(Pontine) wanted us to be prepared for our Homecoming games, and play like we’re going to play then,” senior Trinity Strohl said. “We may have been brought down a little bit this match, but we’re definitely going to play up when we play Mancos.”

Up next, Ignacio will host Nucla Saturday, October 8, with action beginning at 11 a.m. Results from the Volleycats’ crucial 10/6 rematch with Mancos – winners of a five-game thriller at MHS back on August 30 – were unavailable at press time.

Coming in off a four-game home win over Telluride, the Lady Jays stood 8-4 overall, 4-2 against the full 2A/1A San Juan Basin League, and 4-0 against its 2A side. NHS, meanwhile, was 13-4, 5-1 SJBL, 1-1 1A SJBL before visiting Dolores on Tuesday, October 4.

Early on at RHS, Ignacio (9-7, 5-1 SJBL, 4-1 2A SJBL) approached the Lady Demons (2-9, 0-5, 0-4) as though they were already facing Mancos or Nucla, playing with high energy and scoring via all possible means. Taking the 11 a.m. match’s Game 1 lead for good at 2-1, Brunson polished off the 17-point win landing a service ace between four stunned players.

Somehow, Ridgway recovered and built a 5-2 lead early in Game 2, before IHS tied the score at 6-6 and then went ahead for good via a four-contact violation resulting from a Harmony Reynolds spike. Marissa Olguin would bring up game point, 24-9, with a cross-court kill assisted by Howe, and after RHS avoided defeat when Reynolds served out of bounds, the ’Cats went up 2-0 in the contest when Lady Demon senior Ashleigh Richards attacked into the net.

Beginning with a Brunson serve unable to be fielded, IHS led Game 3 wire-to-wire and secured victory – requiring less than an hour – when Sierra Red served back-to-back aces after a Cosio kill.

“It’s like they were sleeping,” lamented Ridgway head coach Shantel Messer. “I think they kind of got into their heads, like most the girls do, when they started making bad touches. From this, you just have to (address) being a team not pumping each other up and blaming each other for missed stuff.”

Brunson finished the morning match with a 15-assist, 10-ace double-double. Cosio totaled nine kills while Howe and Reynolds were each credited with three. All told, Ignacio racked up 29 aces, with Strohl, Kacey Brown, and Red each logging five.

In the afternoon affair, Cosio downed a dozen kills and Reynolds upped her count to seven as Brunson (seven aces) again totaled 15 assists. Howe and Strohl each recorded four kills and Brown three out of the back row, and Howe booked four aces out of the Volleycats’ 21 (Reynolds and Strohl each chipped in three).

“We actually played pretty hard,” said RHS senior Claire Lindley. “Usually we start off bad, but we got it back a bit more … even though we lost. We still fought for it more than usual; I think we learned to play how we wanted to play, play for fun more than just, like, being super-hard on ourselves.”

Other than early in Game 2 during the first match, the Lady Demons’ closest brush with victory came midway through Game 2 in the second. Trailing 16-6 after Brown aced Anikah Jordan, Lindley hammered RHS’ first real kill shot, getting herself on serve at 16-7. She would hold serve until Howe finally smashed down a RHS over-pass, regaining Ignacio the serve at 17-14.

“It was a little nerve-wracking, for sure,” Lindley said. “I was very scared to mess up, but I was focused and ready.”

More or less content with bagging two largely lopsided road wins in league play, the ’Cats know they’ll have to be even more focused and ready for the battles to come.

“I think we all have to be playing our best right now,” Brunson stated. “I mean, it’s going to be tough; there’s going to be a lot of people, a lot of noise, a lot of pressure. So, we’re all going to have to play our best.”

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