Local rivals team up in club volleyball

Colorado Thunder club volleyball player Rayleigh Norton, right, hits a kill after an assist from Becky Grasha on Saturday during the Western Colorado Showcase at Brownson Arena.



As matches were in session for a few of the 36 club high school volleyball teams who participated in the Western Colorado Showcase at Colorado Mesa University on Saturday, the three former high school rivals joked with each other.

For now, they’re teammates.

Central High School’s Kimber Baker joked she had to shake hands and remain civil despite her disappointment at losing to Palisade this past season.

Palisade’s Audrey Steinkirchner liked that comment.

“Write that down,” she said, laughing.

The high school season was just about bragging rights, Fruita Monument’s Michelle Midgley said.

Now the three are members of the Western Colorado 18 Red club volleyball team featuring Grand Valley athletes that have made it to today’s Grand Championship Flight.

Things are different from high school.

“Club is about winning and competition,” Baker said.

The tournament, formerly known as the Grand Junction Invitational, includes five championship brackets of varying levels, the highest being the Grand Championship Flight with 17- and 18-year olds.

For many teams, the tournament is the beginning of the club volleyball season.

The championship for the Grand Championship bracket is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. today in the Hamilton Rec Center at the Maverick Center.

“We cut the tournament down from a three-day format to a two-day format,” tournament director Jeff Wells said. “That way we cut down on costs. Now we have teams from Durango to the (Continental) Divide.”

The tournament was open to registered USA Volleyball teams with players between the ages 13 and 18.

Six college recruiters from area college were in attendance.

“It’s a lot more fun than high school because you have people at your level pushing you to be better, instead of you carrying other players,” Baker said. “Here everyone’s 18 so they’ve played (high school) four years.”

Last weekend, Western Colorado 18 Red, coached by Wells, finished 21st out of 65 teams at the Fiesta Classic in Phoenix.

The Western Colorado 16 Red, also comprised of Grand Valley athletes, finished 15th out of 95 teams at the Fiesta Classic.

The 18 Red team has six all-conference players from the Grand Valley, including Steinkirchner, who said she will play at Colorado Mesa University.

“This is just a chance for us to prove ourselves at a higher level,” Midgley said.


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