Palisade tops Eagle Valley to win first WSL title in 7 years

Palisade’s Audrey Steinkirchner connects on one of her 23 kills Saturday over Eagle Valley’s Desi McGee during the Bulldogs’ 25-21, 22-25, 25-21, 21-25, 15-6 victory. The win clinched the Western Slope League title for the Bulldogs.



Palisade’s and Eagle Valley’s volleyball teams matched attack for attack early Saturday.

Late in the match, though, some unforced errors by the Devils helped Palisade claim the Class 4A Western Slope League title.

Behind a 23-kill, four-block performance from senior outside hitter Audrey Steinkirchner, the Bulldogs gutted their way through the first four games before claiming a 25-21, 22-25, 25-21, 21-25, 15-6 victory and their first league championship since 2004.

“We got the job done,” Palisade coach Wendy MacAskill said. “We did it at home in front of our fans, who’ve been phenomenal for us all season. It was a good place to win this kind of a match.”

It was an important match for Palisade (14-3, 9-1 WSL), in more ways than clinching the league title. Eagle Valley (11-5, 5-3) could still tie Palisade in the league standings if the Devils win their remaining two matches and the Bulldogs lose their final two.

But since the Bulldogs won both matches between the teams, they own the head-to-head tiebreaker.

It also gives Palisade the right to host the WSL district tournament the final weekend of October.

“To have that first round of the playoffs on your home court in front of your home fans with the chance to sleep in our own beds, it’s unbelievable,” MacAskill said.

Only once in the first four games did either team hold more than a three-point lead. Palisade led 20-13 in the second game before Eagle Valley rallied to win.

Palisade, however, scored six of its first seven points of the fifth game off Eagle Valley’s unforced errors to take a 9-3 lead it didn’t relinquish.

“We pressed a little bit and got a little too excited,” Eagle Valley coach Shawn Weatherred said. “We made a lot of errors and started playing better, but Palisade didn’t give us any breaks.”

Mecia Dearth added 13 kills and three blocks, Shannon Rhodes had 38 assists and Courtney Clark had a team-high three aces for Palisade. Alex Lassa finished with 22 kills and Lacey Gerard led all players with five aces for Eagle Valley.

The Devils rallied from a 20-13 deficit in the second game, using a 8-1 run to even the match. Palisade rallied from a three-point deficit to take the third game, but four big kills by Lassa down the stretch of the fourth game helped send the match to a fifth set.

Lassa, however, had four of Eagle Valley’s six early unforced errors in Game 5. Two more followed to help give Palisade a 12-4 lead, and a kill from the back row by Savannah Hanson closed the match and started Palisade’s celebration.

“You have to clear your mind when you go into a fifth game and start fresh,” Steinkirchner said. “We knew we might not get any second chances to do this, so we wanted to take advantage of every opportunity they gave us.”

Durango 3, Fruita Monument 0: The Demons kept their undefeated league record intact with a 25-13, 25-16, 25-20 victory.

Durango cruised to wins in the first and second games then held off a Fruita (12-6, 5-4 SWL) rally in the third game.

Boys Soccer

Four players scored to lead Durango to a 4-1 victory over Fruita Monument in a Southwestern League game in Durango.

The Wildcats (7-7, 6-3 SWL) scored their only goal on a penalty kick late in the game.

Grand Junction 9, Cortez 0: Josh Murdock scored two goals to lead the Tigers (2-8-3, 2-6-1 SWL) to victory.

Moffat County 8, Palisade 0: Alexander Perez scored three goals to lead the Moffat County Bulldogs to victory.

Moffat County scored five goals in the first half.

Softball

Montrose rallied to defeat Conifer 10-9 and Niwot 12-11 in the Class 4A Region 5 tournament to advance to the state tournament this weekend in Aurora.

Niwot defeated the Indians (13-9) in the first game before Montrose eliminated Conifer.

Class 4A Region 4: Delta’s season came to an end with two losses.

No. 4 seed D’Evelyn defeated the 29th-seeded Panthers (9-10) 15-0, then Roosevelt defeated Delta 11-1 in an elimination game.

Class 3A District 5: Gunnison rolled to a 16-1 victory over Grand Valley and Rifle defeated Basalt 8-7 to advance to the state tournament.


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