Wildcats defeat Tigers 3-0 in volleyball battle
The Fruita Monument High School volleyball team expected some nervousness.
Tuesday night at Grand Junction High School, the Wildcats (7-0, 1-0 Southwestern League) outfought the Tigers (5-6, 0-1 SWL) in a tight first game 27-25.
After that, the Wildcats settled down to control the next two games, and win 25-15 in both.
“I figured it would be this way because the girls got really juiced up for this one,” Fruita Monument coach Bob Richardson said. “In the first game, we were trying to play a style we don’t normally play, which is trying to kill balls on offense, which forces us to make a lot of errors.”
In the first game, the Tigers had some momentum after a Justine Roof and Kricket Adleman block gave Grand Junction a 14-11 lead.
Fruita regrouped and got big kills down the stretch from Katy Haerle to take the first game.
“We didn’t have our mind in it and we started kind of sloppy,” Richardson said. “Once we settled down, we started playing more like ourselves by getting them out of their offense.”
The Wildcats pulled away in the second game, stringing together a 10-2 run to take a 19-9 lead. Teddi Larson helped seal the second game win with a block.
“The second game is more like we’ve been playing all season,” Richardson said. “Being in control, and not giving the other team points, but making them earn their points.”
Fruita dominated the third game, led by outside hitter Camille Kovach’s seven kills. Kovach had a total of 18 kills in the match.
“Our goal was to get the momentum and carry it into the last two games,” Kovach said. “There was a lot of energy throughout and it’s going well.”
Kovach made sure to give some credit to her setters and libero. Angie Archuleta finished with 14 assists and Janine Kirtland had 16 digs.
“Our passing and defense has been very strong,” Kovach said.
On the other side of the net, Grand Junction couldn’t help but be disappointed after a promising first game. The Tigers lacked rhythm in the final two games, which caused them to fall behind early in each loss.
“I expected a different outcome,” Grand Junction coach Leslie Vines said. “We needed something big to happen and it was like we were scrambling the whole time.
“It’s hard to come back when you are scrambling, and can’t put anything together.”
Vines said the Tigers’ mental toughness wasn’t there at points in the match. But she added there’s no questioning the physical toughness of the team. Middle hitter Hannah Kimmel played the match with a possible stress fracture in her foot.
Kimmel, a senior, said she wasn’t going to be sidelined in a game against the Tigers’ rival.
“I have played with a majority of those girls since I started playing volleyball, so the competition level was so high tonight,” Kimmel said. “It was too much to sit out, so after (Tuesday night) I’m taking two weeks off to let it heal, but (Tuesday) I had to stick it out.”
Tigers libero Capri Rino also played through pain Tuesday night by fighting off an injury to her left hand she sustained in warm-ups.
“She jammed her thumb really bad, and it swelled up,” Vines said. “But it’s all about volleyball for these guys and they can’t wait to be in the gym hurt or not.”
Rino finished with 22 digs, and Kimmel had five kills.
Kricket Adleman added eight kills and two blocks.