Quick tips lift Durango past Grand Junction in volleyball

The Grand Junction High School volleyball team expected to face a barrage of attacks Saturday against defending Southwestern League champion Durango.

Although the Demons attempted plenty of spikes in their 25-17, 25-13, 25-19 win, the Tigers (4-7, 0-4 SWL) came prepared.

It was the quick tips over the net that threw them off.

“I think we just psyched ourselves out like crazy because we know Durango’s probably the best in our league, so we went out thinking ‘Oh no, they’re just going to pound us every time,’ ” Junction senior Justine Roof said. “They ended up tipping a lot and that’s what really messed us up.”

The Tigers, for the most part, played patiently throughout the match and scored numerous points off Durango hitting and serving errors.

In the first game, Grand Junction scored the first point on a kill by Roof, but quickly fell behind 7-4 after several key serves by Durango’s Claire Ochsner. The Tigers stayed within striking distance and a kill by Roof narrowed Durango’s lead to 15-13.

After that, Durango scored six of the next eight points to take a 21-15 lead. After Grand Junction scored its 17th point, Durango came up with three straight points to end the game.

Grand Junction’s struggles continued into the second game.

The Tigers once again scored the first point but struggled with ball control and allowed six straight points. The Tigers narrowed the lead to 7-4 after Durango’s Hannah Quick hit the ball out of bounds, but last season’s SWL player of the year, Sloan Lovett, came back with a kill after a short rally.

Lovett’s kill led to a nine-point run for the Demons based around Ochsner’s serving and timely blocking.

“We got in a hole and we kept digging it deeper and couldn’t get out,” Roof said.

Grand Junction trailed 16-4 and Durango’s smallest lead after that was eight points.

In the final game, Grand Junction coach Leslie Vines switched up the Tigers’ starting lineup by adding Whitney Jackson, Lacee Kilgore and Margaret Harris, players who she said had a positive attitude.

The Tigers responded to the changes with an early 5-2 lead.

The Demons tied the game at 9-9, but Grand Junction scored two points to make it 11-9. The cat-and-mouse continued until the Tigers tied it 18-18.

Durango broke the tie with seven of the game’s final eight points.

Vines was pleased with her team’s performance in the final game.

“They came out and somehow were able to stay positive after two losses,” she said. “They came out, shook off their mistakes and that was it.”


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