Bummer: Fruita takes Durango to the limit, but loses for first time
The Fruita Monument High School volleyball team left the floor on Saturday disappointed, but not discouraged.
The Wildcats lost a tight match to Durango 25-21, 25-27, 13-25, 25-23, 15-13.
Fruita had opportunities in the final game, leading 9-6 before the Demons stormed back to tie the game at 12-12.
Fruita (8-1, 1-1 Southwestern League) contributed to the loss with errors down the stretch, and Durango closed out the match with a Sloan Lovett kill and a Jessi Wymore block.
“We made some mistakes that we haven’t been making all season long,” Fruita Monument coach Bob Richardson said. “When we get down to the end of the game, we don’t want to make any errors or service errors.”
Richardson said he sensed the importance of the match was weighing on his team.
“There was a lot of pressure on our girls (because) we haven’t beaten Durango in a long time,” Richardson said. “They were a little tougher than us mentally at the end of the game.”
The Demons seized control of the match early. Durango led 20-14 before the Wildcats made a run to close the gap to 22-18.
“The first game we were trying to just get our act together,” Richardson said. “This was a big match conference-wise; the winner (is) in the lead.”
Fruita responded with a strong second game, with big kills from Camille Kovach and Katy Haerle to help clinch the second game.
Fruita took a 2-1 lead in the match by cruising in the third game.
“I think we made a statement that we weren’t going to go away,” Richardson said. “We found a way to stretch it out, so it was big for our confidence.”
Fruita hurt itself in the fourth game with two errors in the final four points.
The Wildcats realized they had opportunities in the final two games to close out the match.
“I think we have to learn how to win the big games,” Richardson said. “But we were close and I think we earned Durango’s respect, and they know we aren’t a team that is going to lay down.”
Saturday’s game featured two of the best outside hitters in the league in Durango’s Lovett and Fruita Monument’s Kovach.
Lovett ended with 15 kills, and Richardson said the Wildcats were avoiding giving the junior any clean kills.
“Sloan is a good player, so we were trying to serve in such a way that their setter would have a harder time setting the ball to her,” Richardson said. “But we serve strategically, knowing what the other team is trying to do and trying to make the setter on the other side do what we want her to do instead of what they are trying to do.”
Kovach had a season-high 24 kills for Fruita, and added 22 digs.
The Wildcats got solid performances from their two setters. Angie Archuleta had 18 assists and four aces and Vanessa Bodie finished with 19 assists.
“It was great volleyball and fun to watch,” Richardson said. “It was a hard loss, but it wasn’t ugly volleyball, it was the way volleyball is supposed to be played when two good teams are against each other.”