How sweep it is

Three-game win just what Central VB team wanted

Central’s Taylor Head, 23, hits between the block of Grand Junction’s Rachel Stahl, 6, and Carman Piper, 24, for a kill Tuesday night in the Warriors’ 25-19, 25-12, 28-26 victory.

The Central High School volleyball team remembers when, in 2011, they squeaked out a couple of 3-2 victories over favored Grand Junction.

So, for Central coach Beth Nelson, sweeping the Tigers 
25-19, 25-12, 28-26 at home Tuesday was a welcome change.

“It feels very good not having to go five games,” Nelson said. “I don’t like going five games, ever. Even when I’m on the good side of it.”

While a lot of the pieces from last year’s squad stayed the same for the Warriors, one notable piece missing was former libero and captain Demi Ruder. Typically quiet on the floor, senior Mariah Garcia filled both roles for the Warriors.

“(Garcia) is doing great, and I think tonight, out of the entire season, was her best passing night for us,” Nelson said. “It’s something that we worked on with her, and she got the job done for us tonight.

“She’s a captain for us this season, and she set the tone for us in open gyms. You could tell what role she wanted, and she went out there and got it.”

Garcia led Central with 24 digs and contributed heavily to the passing game when Rayleigh Norton exited in the first set after slamming her head on the floor.

“I wanted to fit into (the captain) role when the season started,” Garcia said. “Me and Demi always had that constant battle for wanting the same positions, so I stepped into that position with pride.”

Despite the sweep, Central had to spend each game coming from behind early.

The Warriors fell behind by five points in the first game, but clawed back to take a 16-11 lead and carried that to a 25-19 victory.

Grand Junction jumped to a 6-2 lead in Game 2, but Central went on a 5-0 run and never relinquished the lead.

Game 3 almost went to the Tigers. Central benefited from clean defense and six straight Grand Junction errors to go up 14-11, but Junction battled back to lead 25-24. A Tiger error and an ace by Madi Marston put Central up one. Grand Junction tied the game at 26-26, but an incorrect player serving the ball gave Central a point. The Warriors capitalized and won 28-26.

“A full team effort won it for us,” Nelson said. “When Rayleigh, one of my most experienced players, went out with an injury, Makayla Wilcox and Hannah Keeling stepped in like they were full-blown varsity players. So really, tonight more than other nights, it was a great team effort.”

Nicole McIvor led the Warriors with eight kills, Taylor Head had two blocks and Norton had 11 assists and two aces.

For Grand Junction, Ashley Preuss had a team-high 12 kills and added two blocks, Lacee Kilgore had 16 assists and two aces, and Madi Gastineau had 23 digs.


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