Palisade opens season with quick WSL win

Palisade High School’s Alfonso Medina, left, and Eagle Valley’s Marco Escobar race toward a loose ball during the first half of Tuesday’s game at Walker Field.

The Palisade High School volleyball team didn’t need a nonleague match to begin the season.

While other squads were starting their seasons last weekend with tournaments and nonleague games, the Bulldogs were tuning up for Tuesday’s home opener, which also kicked off their Western Slope League season.

Palisade was well prepared, rolling to a 25-14, 25-13, 25-13 victory over Delta.

“We were so excited,” Palisade sophomore middle hitter Audrey Steinkirchner said. “All last week and last weekend, we were like, ‘I want it to be Tuesday.’ ”

When Tuesday came, the Bulldogs were more than ready.

“We did go to a couple of tournaments over the summer,” Palisade coach Wendy MacAskill said of being ready for the opener.

“(MacAskill) talked about how the extra practice would help us,” Steinkirchner said. “I think that’s why we came out so well in the first game.”

If anything, MacAskill may have been concerned about her team being too excited, especially opening the season with a league match.

“It definitely matters,” she said, but her worries were quickly eliminated.

“I think there was some experience on the court that helped balance that out.”

That was obvious when, with Danette Whittington serving, the Bulldogs scored the first six points of the match, with help from a couple of kills by Steinkirchner.

Steinkirchner saved the best for last, getting kills on three consecutive points in the third game as Palisade pulled away.

“Once you start really getting into a groove, then you get going,” Steinkirchner said of finding a rhythm.

Steinkirchner led all players with 18 kills. Senior outside hitter Morgan Reynolds added six, which made it difficult for the Delta defense to know whom to block.

More than the offense, Mac-Askill was most pleased with defense.

“The girls know if we can’t get the ball to the front row, it doesn’t matter if you have one (good hitter),” she said.

Palisade gets its first nonleague action this weekend when it travels to Colorado Springs for the Mesa Ridge Invitational. The Bulldogs are guaranteed five games, which will allow Mac-Askill to experiment a little with the lineup.

“We’ll see what works and explore other options,” MacAskill said.


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