Bulldogs get best of Delta in volleyball

The Delta High School volleyball team is nothing like the group that finished 3-16 in 2009.

The Panthers came into Tuesday’s match against Palisade with a 3-1 Western Slope League record, and ready to earn a signature win.

Unfortunately for the Panthers (5-5, 3-2 WSL), Palisade’s Audrey Steinkirchner wasn’t having it.

Steinkirchner finished with 26 kills, six solo blocks and two aces to help the Bulldogs (7-4, 4-1 WSL) hold off Delta 19-25, 25-16, 25-17, 22-25, 15-9.

“They are so scrappy it feels good to beat a team like that,” Steinkirchner said. “We had to play with heart. They fought hard so we had to dig in.”

Steinkirchner’s 26 kills is a career high for the 6-foot-2 junior. Steinkirchner had three consecutive kills in the second game that tied it at 15-15.

The strong attacks helped sway the momentum, and Palisade rattled off a 10-1 run to close out the game.

“(Audrey) lit a fire for us in the second game,” Palisade coach Wendy MacAskill said. “That’s when we started playing the game we are capable of playing.”

Palisade won game three smoothly, 25-17, and appeared to be cruising in the fourth game, but Delta overcame an 18-11 deficit to win 25-22.

Katie Kahrs sealed the game with a pair of kills. Kahrs led the Panthers with 13 kills.

“They did just what I’ve been hearing,” MacAskill said. “(Delta) plays really good defense, they serve well, they’re scrappy, and they really are a much improved team like everyone’s said.”

Palisade pulled away in the fifth game and closed it out with two consecutive blocks from Steinkirchner.

MacAskill said she was happy with the way the Bulldogs responded to Tuesday night’s adversity.

“We haven’t lost many first games this year so I wasn’t sure how we’d do,” MacAskill said. “It was good to see us improve as the match went on.”

The Bulldogs’ slow start could have been because of a shift to their lineup. Palisade’s starting setter Shannon Rhodes injured her ankle in Monday’s practice and was unable to play. Her replacement, Emily Zamora, played solid in Rhodes’ absence, finishing with 38 assists and 17 digs.

“Emily Zamora came in and did a fantastic job,” MacAskill said. “We had to shift around so it was different and it was a hard adjustment to make at game time.”

For Palisade, Danette Whittington finished with 22 digs, and Jenny Thibodeau had three aces.

Natalie Larkin had 34 digs for the Panthers, and Skylyn Webb added eight kills.

“We came out and played hard,” Delta coach Renee St. Jean said. “I’m proud of how we played and it’s exciting to go from a 3-16 team to fighting for second and third in the league.”

Glenwood Springs is the next opponent for each team with Palisade playing Thursday at Glenwood and Delta hosting the Demons on Saturday.


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