GJ shows moxie in 5-set victory over Palisade
Facing match point three times and watching Palisade nearly rally from an 11-point deficit in the fourth set didn’t bother the Grand Junction High School volleyball team at all Thursday night.
Breck Smith had a team-high 12 kills and Lexi Wright added 11 kills and a match-clinching block in the fifth set, leading the Tigers to a 21-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 19-17 road victory over the Bulldogs.
“This year, we’re showing a lot of fight,” Grand Junction coach Jeff Wells said. “Last year, there would be times we’d lose the first two sets and stop (playing), or we’d win the first two and lose three. In a good volleyball match, you’ve got to push because you’re going to get pushed. And when you get pushed, you’ve got to push back. You can’t give up. They showed that tonight.”
The Tigers (3-6) never gave up — even with momentum in Palisade’s favor. The Bulldogs (6-3) pulled within two points in the fourth set after trailing by as many as 11 before the Tigers pulled away. In the decisive fifth set, Palisade led 14-11 before the Tigers scored four consecutive points to extend the match and eventually prevail.
“We’ve been that team to gain momentum back, too,” Smith said. “Our biggest thing was how we needed to stop their momentum as fast as we could and get it back on our side.”
Alexandra MacAskill and Reannon Baskin each had a match-high 19 kills, with MacAskill scoring six consecutive Palisade points on kills during the fourth set of the Bulldogs’ rally attempt.
“Our girls never relaxed, but I will say they hit a rough spot where things weren’t really clicking,” Palisade coach Wendy MacAskill said. “But that wasn’t for lack of intensity or lack of effort. And I think that really showed in that fourth set. It’s evidence of what they’re capable of.”
MacAskill and Baskin showed what Palisade’s offense can do when it clicks, scoring 12 of the Bulldogs’ 13 points during a 13-6 run in the fourth set that pulled Palisade within 23-21 before a pair of Palisade hitting errors forced a fifth set. But the Bulldogs kept their momentum, with a placement kill from Baskin giving Palisade a 14-11 lead.
Three hitting errors and a kill by Smith put the Tigers up 15-14, but a kill from Alexandra MacAskill after a rally that lasted nearly two minutes put the Bulldogs up 17-16.
Smith responded with a kill, Katie Carozza’s kill on the next serve put Grand Junction ahead to stay, and Wright closed the match with a block on the right side.
“When we focused on ourselves instead of what they did, it worked out a lot better for us,” Wright said.
Lindy Spiegel contributed 42 assists for Grand Junction. Reese Norton had 11 aces and 28 digs for Palisade.
Fruita Monument 3, Lakewood 0: The 10th-ranked Wildcats won 25-22, 25-16, 25-23, sending Fruita (8-1) into next week’s Southwestern League opener at Central on a six-match winning streak.
Brandi Haller, Kylan Dickerson and Lexie Didonato each hit home runs for Fruita Monument, which opened Southwestern League play with an 11-9 victory over Montrose at Little Salt Wash Park. The Wildcats have won three of their past four games since beginning the season 0-7.