Spikers’ season ends a ‘W’ short

Ignacio Volleyball's seniors
Ignacio's Angela Herrera (10)
Ignacio Volleyball's seniors – Cloe Seibel, Angela Herrera and Cheyenne Cook – begin a battle against emotions prior to their last home match, Oct. 22, versus 3A Pagosa Springs. IHS won the non-league match in four [26-24, 25-23, 14-25, 25-21], giving the team a third straight victory prior to the 2A-District 3 Tournament.
Ignacio's Angela Herrera (10) goes for a kill over Telluride's Mary Grace Green (3) during the third-place match at the 2A-District 3 Tournament, Oct. 26 in Mancos. The loss to the Lady Miners ended the Volleycats' season, and the prep-level careers of Herrera, Cheyenne Cook and Cloe Seibel.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

IHS finishes fourth at districts

Ignacio’s Volleycats watched and waited for their fate Saturday, Oct. 26, to be determined through a tie-breaking fifth game.

One in which they weren’t even involved.

They’d just fought through and lost a full pull against one of the on-court crews before their eyes, so the extra drama – as if postseason pressure wasn’t enough – wasn’t a total surprise. The surprise was that the team that had put the Cats on pins and needles at the Mancos-hosted 2A-District 3 Tournament then helped prolong their season at least one more match.

That would be the third-place tilt; Nucla freshman Carlie Wytulka’s ace off Dolores junior Taylor Elder not only capped the Lady Mustangs’ five-game thriller over DHS, but allowed IHS – which had also downed the stunned Lady Bears in pool play – to challenge Telluride for the final berth into regionals.

But after moving out of the now-junior high’s gym and into the Mancos Performance Center, the Volleycats’ hopes to see another weekend were shattered.

Outclassed in Game 1 since the Lady Miners went ahead at 7-6, fortunate to have nearly swiped Game 2 after trailing by as much as 20-12, and finally appearing back in form with a Game 3 win, Ignacio’s time ran out on a soft kill into the middle of the floor by THS senior Carson Brumley – after teammate Karla Martinez had hit into the net, bringing IHS back to 24-23.

And by results of 15-25, 23-25, 25-17 and 23-25, Ignacio’s 2013 went into history while Telluride (10-11 overall), NHS and D-3 victors Ridgway (18-3) all assured themselves another opportunity to create some.

The taxing day began for the Cats (7-15) with a net violation against DHS, but after falling behind at 3-2, Ignacio’s climb to a 25-23 Game 1 win peaked with consecutive Chrystianne Valdez aces cutting the Lady Bears’ lead to 15-14, and a Cheyenne Cook kill that gave IHS the lead for keeps at 19-18.

In very similar fashion, Dolores turned the tables and evened the match with a 25-17 win in Game 2, overcoming Ignacio’s 5-0 start to take a 15-12 lead on a Courtney Blackmer overpass-kill and two Bailey Boyd aces, and soon take the game on a Larissa Umberger ace off Angela Herrera.

Ignacio struck first again in Game 3, but DHS settled in to scrap evenly until another Umberger ace put them ahead 13-11. The advantage would remain theirs until Ellie Seibel blocked Elana Bernholtz to bring IHS level at 23-all, and Cloe Seibel then landed an ace out of the senior’s reach. Dolores then tied, but after a Diaz kill Bernholtz nearly blew her stack after being called for a game-ending lift at the net.

Two more Bernholtz gaffes late in Game 4, following a Diaz ace tying it at 20-20 and preceding an Ellie Seibel cross-court kill, virtually spelled defeat for the Lady Bears (13-8) – which became a cold fact, 25-22 and 3 games to 1, when a Herrera smash proved too hot to handle.

Nucla found out in short order just how hot, falling behind by as much as 18-8 on a Diaz overpass-kill, and then 1 game to 0 on an Ellie Seibel ace off Kenzee Irish. And IHS threatened to go up 2-zip when a Diaz kill gave them a 15-10 lead. Finally finding themselves though, the Lady Mustangs bounced back to steal the game 26-24 on an Irish tip and a lift whistled against Cook.

NHS (11-11) proved the aggressors in Game 3, hoping to show the Cats they hadn’t been intimidated, but Ignacio ended up pushing the pace from 13-12 on to a 25-23 win after a lift against Nucla’s Shalyn Steffan and a Diaz line kill.

Blocks by Ellie Seibel and Kelly Campbell helped get IHS off to a 3-0 start in Game 4, but the Lady Mustangs fought back to finally tie at 15-15 with a Macie Magallon kill off Cook’s hands. Nucla then built a small lead, which was soon erased by two Cloe Seibel aces, tying the count at 22. But Ellie Seibel hit one wide to put NHS up, point-23, and Wytulka fired an ace to force Game 5.

To the Lady Mustangs, enough was enough.

Racing out to leads of 3-0, 7-1 and 11-3, Nucla ultimately conquered, 15-8 after emphatic spikes by Magallon, Makayla Sutherland and – before she later proved helpful – Wytulka on match point.

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