‘Cats win SWL opener over GJ
Fruita Monument High School opened the Southwestern League volleyball season Tuesday night with a 3-0 win over rival Grand Junction, 25-23, 25-19, 25-18.
“It’s not just the first conference win, but the first one against Junction,” Fruita head coach Bob Richardson said. “It’s always a big rivalry, pretty nerve-racking for both sides, I’m sure. We’re young, and it’s hard for the kids to settle themselves down and not make an error. But, we’re 1-0 in conference, and I’m happy with that.”
Fruita extended its winning streak to three matches and improved to 7-1. Grand Junction dropped its second straight match to fall to 4-4.
Despite the 3-0 score, the Tigers did not go down without a fight. Grand Junction extended both the first and second sets on game point for Fruita.
The Wildcats never trailed in the first set, but the Tigers rallied to make it 24-23 after Fruita led by as many as seven. Trailing 24-20, Grand Junction’s Lacee Kilgore won three points on her serve to make it a one-point game, but the Wildcats used a kill by Michelle Midgley to force the sideout and win.
The second set looked like it would go in Fruita’s favor when the Wildcats broke a 15-15 tie with a sideout followed by an 8-1 run to make it 24-16.
However, Grand Junction got a kill from Sabrina Trujillo to give the Tigers possession and keep the set alive. After Grand Junction narrowed Fruita’s lead to five at 24-19, the Wildcats took the 2-0 match lead on a crushing block by Teddi Larson and MacKenzie Schuller.
Grand Junction kept its comeback hopes alive in the third set by taking an early 10-3 lead. Fruita relied heavily on serving from Jordan Eatwell and Joelle LeFevre to tie it at 13-13 before pulling away. More solid serving and composed attacking capped Fruita’s victory with a 6-2 run.
“I think the difference in the game was our serving,” Richardson said. “They had a couple tough servers, but I think we had a few more tough servers.”
Along with the serving, Richardson was impressed with his team’s ability to overcome nerves but noted that they still have improvements to make.
“Lots of nerves for a young team on our side, but a win’s a win and we pulled it out,” Richardson said. “We still need to pass better. We need to play a little better, but they did the things I asked them to do. I’m happy that they were able to come back after being down several times and get the win.”
Grand Junction coach Leslie Vine blamed a lack of mental preparation for her team’s loss.
“We had kind of a rough start today,” Vines said. “I hoped for a better turnout, but I feel like we didn’t put up the fight that we should have. They need to figure out how to work together and be supportive of each other. Once they start doing that, their physical game is there. They can be as good as they want to be.”
Grand Junction scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to cap off rivalry day with a 5-2 win over the Wildcats.
“It was a great game,” Grand Junction coach Adam Diaz said, “two good teams going at it.”
The Tigers found a few more gaps than the Wildcats, especially in the seventh after getting two runners on with no out. A bunt resulted in a throwing error and a base hit over short and a gap ball in right-center broke open a one-run game.
Cierra Cosslett picked up the win and doubled for Grand Junction (9-1).
“Both teams hit pretty well,” Diaz said. “We just found a few more gaps.”