Palisade wins Class 4A Western Slope League title
It’s called burning, because it causes those skin-shrieking floor burns, callouses on the base of outstretched palms, and bruises on hips and thighs.
Burning goes something like this: The server sees an open seam, sometimes the shallow area within 10 feet of the net, and places the ball. See if you can volley it. Usually burning ends in all-out, nasty dives.
On Saturday at Palisade High School, the Bulldogs burned Battle Mountain, 3-1, behind four aces apiece from Courtney Clark and Savannah Hanson.
In doing so, Palisade (15-8, 10-2) won its second straight Class 4A Western Slope League title and earned an automatic berth to regionals. Regional pairings will be announced Monday.
The Bulldogs’ servers noticed Battle Mountain (11-11, 6-6) was playing deep. So they often attempted high-arcing serves that would either scrape the net and hit inbounds or drop within 10 feet of Battle Mountain’s side of the net.
“It’s sort of like a free throw in basketball,” Palisade senior Tahverle Hodges said. “You just have to have the right angle.”
Said Hanson: “It’s all in the touch.”
Palisade lost the first game, 25-23, but, behind the aces, came back to win the final three games, 25-16, 25-20 and 25-14.
“Our serving started off a little slow tonight,” Palisade coach Wendy MacAskill said. “And it’s one of our weapons. So once they started going in, we were able to get some free points off aces, and that was the catalyst for the rest of the game.”
Palisade also benefited from the “burn” drills it often does in practice, where a Bulldogs server tries to burn a player who is not in the right spot. In digs, Clark had 20 and Hodges had 18. Scorekeepers did not record bruises and callouses.
“If the ball hits the floor, it hurts more,” Hanson said. “It hurts emotionally, too, so the physical pain — you feel it.”
Palisade avoided a tie with Glenwood Springs, which suffered a third league loss earlier in the week. MacAskill said Palisade would have won a tiebreaker, but the Bulldogs wanted to be the undisputed champion.
“We didn’t want to share,” she said.
■ Fruita Monument went 3-1 Saturday at the Dakota Ridge Tournament, beating: Boulder 25-17, 25-23; Rock Canyon 25-12, 25-16; and Monarch 25-21, 18-25, 15-11. They lost to Mountain Vista 25-23, 9-25, 5-15.
■ Grand Junction lost two matches Saturday at the Titan Classic, hosted by Legend. The Tigers lost 25-18, 25-21 to Arvada West and 25-15, 25-19 to Regis Jesuit.