Wildcats sweep showdown with Durango

Fruita Monument’s Eiley Durham, 6, grimaces Saturday as she successfully blocks a kill attempt by Durango’s Hannah Quick, 4, during the second game of the Wildcats’ sweep of the Demons in Fruita. The win set up a possible tie for the Southwestern League title.

For the past two years, the Fruita Monument volleyball team has finished second in the Southwestern League behind Durango.

It’s easy to see why.

With five players listed at 5 feet, 10 inches or taller, Durango is dangerous near the net.

Fruita has a different kind of weapon on its front line. Listed at 5 feet 8, senior outside hitter Eiley Durham is more about finesse than power. Her 113 kills rank second on the team behind junior MacKenzie Schuller, who has 157.

The Wildcats’ only loss in league play this season came during a 3-0 sweep by the Demons in Durango.

But on Saturday, Fruita emphatically defeated Durango 25-23, 25-22, 25-20, setting up a possible tie for the SWL title.

“It was amazing to beat Durango,” said Durham, who contributed seven kills and two aces and was out of breath at the conclusion of the match. “I’m so happy. It’s so awesome to win this. We had to get it together in the second game, but we played as a team. That’s what we’ve done all year.”

Fruita coach Bob Richardson said his squad has one more league match left, while Durango has two.

“I feel pretty good about our chances against Central, but of course we will take the proverbial one game at a time,” Richardson said. “(The Demons) have some pretty tough games left. Montrose is a tough team.”

Fruita’s league schedule ends Tuesday, when it hosts Central. Durango will have to go on the road to face Montrose before returning to Grand Junction to play Central.

If Fruita and Durango finish tied in league play, each with a sweep of the other, they would share the title. Because Fruita competes in 5A and Durango in 4A, there would be no need for further tiebreaking because there would be no conflict for automatic bids to their respective regional tournaments. 

Schuller led the Wildcats with 15 kills, and Joelle LeFevre led the team with 31 digs and two aces, including a momentum-killing ace in the first game. In Game 2, Fruita fell behind 11-6, but a late rally tied the game 21-21, and three kills by Schuller and Durham sealed the win.

The second game signaled a momentum shift, and Fruita trailed briefly in the third game before completing the sweep.


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