At full strength

Wildcats get healthy in time for 5A regionals

After missing Fruita Monument’s final three Southwestern League matches, Loryn Chiapuzio returned for the Dakota Ridge Tournament and played well, a good sign for the Wildcats heading into this weekend’s Class 5A Region 10 tournament. Chiapuzio is the second leading hitter for the Wildcats, with 211 kills.

Jordan Eatwell is the top hitter for Fruita, collecting 265 kills on the season for the Wildcats, who host Grand Junction and Fruita Monument in the Class 5A Region 10 Tournament this weekend.

Tori Catlett, 23, and the Grand Junction Tigers will be battling with Fruita Monument and Fort Collins this weekend for the Class 5A Region 10 title.



No. 10 Fruita Monument (19-4),
No. 15 Fort Collins (17-6), No. 27 Grand Junction (11-12)

Schedule, all games at Fruita Monument High School

9 a.m. — Grand Junction vs. Fruita Monument

10:30 a.m. — Grand Junction vs. Fort Collins

1 p.m. — Fort Collins vs. Fruita Monument

Winner advances to Class 5A state tournament.

The coaches

Fruita Monument — Bob Richardson. Fort Collins — Lindsey Blahauvietz. Grand Junction — Shawna Emmons.

About Fruita Monument

Statistical leaders (regular season)

Jordan Eatwell, sr., outside/middle hitter — 265 kills, 35.9 hitting percentage, 295 digs, 27 blocks.

Loryn Chiapuzio, sr., outside hitter/defensive specialist — 211 kills, 34.5 hitting percentage, 21 aces.

MacKenzie Schuller, sr., opposite/middle hitter — 202 kills, 38 percent hitting percentage, 33 total blocks.

Savannah Ashmore, sr., setter — 771 assists, 133 digs.

Joelle LeFevre, sr., libero — 569 digs, 14 aces.


■ Fruita has eight seniors on its varsity roster, and all of them have seen time on the court this season. Chiapuzio, Eatwell, Schuller, Ashmore, LeFevre and Lindsey Thomson are starters, and Allie Hatch and Kasey Dollershell rotate in off the bench.

■ Chiapuzio and Schuller have battled injuries this season. Schuller, a right-handed hitter, has a torn labrum in her right shoulder. The injury will require offseason surgery, and it has limited her in practice. But the injury hasn’t limited her offensive output, as Schuller has the Wildcats’ highest kill percentage at 38 percent. Chiapuzio had been battling a sprained ankle that kept her out of Fruita’s final three league games, including Fruita’s 3-2 loss to Durango. Richardson said Chiapuzio played well during the Dakota Ridge Tournament this past weekend, and she will be ready to go for the regional.

■ Richardson said his team is one of the “best defensive teams in the state,” and it will help them in the postseason. He also said his team is efficient on offense and is ranked “fourth or fifth” in the state in hitting percentage. 

About Fort Collins

Statistical leaders (regular season)

Coreen Norwood, sr., middle hitter — 224 kills, 49.9 hitting percentage, 33 aces, 56 total blocks.

Victoria Norwood, jr., outside/middle hitter — 160 kills, 42.9 hitting percentage, 35 aces, 26 blocks.

Karah Midgarden, jr,, libero/defensive specialist — 376 digs, 31 aces.

Katie Ronen, sr., setter — 644 assists.


■ The Lambkins are led by a pair of sisters, Coreen and Victoria Norwood. The duo lead the Fort Collins attack, and Coreen, a senior, has drawn interest from college coaches.

■ Fort Collins is coached by alum Lindsey (Kerr) Blahauvietz, who was a standout player at Colorado State University. She was selected the Mountain West Conference Libero of the Year in 2002.

About Grand Junction

Statistical leaders (regular season)

Courtney Gopinath, sr., outside/middle hitter — 239 kills, 36.7 hitting percentage, 75 aces.

Kayla Roberts, sr., outside hitter — 124 kills, 30 hitting percentage, 44 aces.

Tia Wright, fr., middle hitter — 67 blocks, 100 kills, 40.8 hitting percentage.

Cheyenna O’Brien, sr., setter — 316 assists.


■ Grand Junction had a rough start in the league, but finished strong and won enough nonleague games to secure a spot in the playoffs. Emmons said she knew her team was on the bubble, and she was excited when they secured a spot in the regional.

■ Wright has made an immediate impact for the Tigers and is among the Southwestern League leaders in blocks and hitting percentage.

The Fruita Monument volleyball team capped a successful regular season with a Southwestern League title despite injury woes.

The No. 10 Wildcats more than earned the right to host the Class 5A Region 10 Tournament at Fruita Monument High School on Saturday.

Now, coach Bob Richardson said it’s just a matter of getting healthy before the Wildcats open against No. 27 Grand Junction at 9 a.m. Saturday, and then play No. 15 Fort Collins at 1 p.m.

MacKenzie Schuller (torn labrum) and Loryn Chiapuzio (sprained ankle) were nursing injuries heading into the Wildcats’ final games at the Dakota Ridge Tournament in Littleton.

“We had a busy weekend playing five games in three days, but this week we took it easy, and I think we’re as healthy as we’re going to get,” Richardson said. “We played well last weekend, and I think we accomplished what we needed to accomplish in order to get where we need to be.”

Richardson said the Wildcats’ opening-round matchup against Grand Junction gives him “mixed feelings,” and he hates to play any team three times, especially one that “knows us that well.” Added to that, Richardson said Grand Junction takes the spot of a Front Range opponent that would have had to make the long trip to the Western Slope.

“They don’t have to travel,” Richardson said. “These Front Range teams don’t normally make six-hour bus rides to play a game, and they don’t spend the night in a hotel. It’s not something they do. It is something we do, and I feel like it’s an advantage that we earned this season.”

Richardson said he caught a glimpse of Fort Collins when the Wildcats were playing on a nearby court at the Dakota Ridge Tournament. He said the Lambkins are like most Front Range teams: bigger than the Wildcats.

But Richardson said Fruita has worked in practice to increase the speed of its offense to beat Lambkin defenders before they can set up blocks.

For the Tigers, Saturday’s opening match is a matter of believing they can topple Fruita.

“I think our chances are decent heading into Saturday,” Grand Junction coach Shawna Emmons said. “We have some really strong players, and they have some really strong players. We both have good defenses and some good offense, and I think it will come down to the wire.

“I know my girls are excited, and I think we’ll be ready to play. I know (Richardson) will have his girls ready to play. But you really have to go into matches like this believing you have a chance, or really what’s the point of playing.”

Although Fort Collins remains a mystery, Emmons said her team has excelled at reading and responding to how a team plays. She said the Tigers have been “picking up on teams more quickly” during the second half of the season, and that could translate well against the Lambkins.

Tia Wright, a freshman middle hitter for the Tigers, has the potential to limit some of the talented hitters for Fruita and Fort Collins. Wright is third in the SWL with 67 blocks and has the second highest kill percentage in the league.

“It’s been great to watch her grow this season,” Emmons said. “The upperclassmen have really taken her under their wing. At first she was really timid and was part of the team but wasn’t really part of the team, if you know what I mean. But she has really grown into her own, always asking for extra help, and I’ll tell you this: She’s going to be a force by the time she’s a senior.”

Montrose hosts 4A Regional

It’s nice to be home.

Montrose volleyball coach Shane Forrest said it’s a relief to avoid traveling to a Class 4A regional. The Indians (19-4) host No. 31 Steamboat Springs (13-8) and No. 19 Mountain View (14-9) with matches beginning at 10 a.m. at Montrose High School.

“I’m feeling great about our chances in this tournament,” Forrest said. “It’s exciting for the kids not having to travel after being used to traveling every year. It’s a new feeling for us. We’re feeling good. We just have to play well and play solid volleyball and control our errors.”
Forrest said she will rely on a pair of seniors to lead Montrose against a young Steamboat Springs squad and a Mountain View squad that played a tough schedule.

“Emily Sanburg is our middle hitter, and she’s just been solid all year for us,” Forrest said. “Shea Neill has been our spark plug at libero and just our vocal leader all season.”

Paonia seeks perfection

Paonia (23-0) will try to remain undefeated as it hosts the Class 2A Region C tournament Saturday. The Eagles will host Nucla (11-11) and West Grand (11-12), with games beginning at 9 a.m.


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