Senior leaders spark late rally for GJ win
When the Grand Junction volleyball team needed a run on Saturday, it went to its senior outside hitter.
With the Tigers tied 2-2 in games against Prairie View, they needed a run to put the fifth game away.
Britney Richardson provided that boost. She had some help, however.
Traci Rolbiecki was at the service line during Grand Junction’s 12-point run in the final game. Richardson scored six of the final eight points as the Tigers defeated the Thunderhawks 19-25, 25-16, 25-11, 23-25, 15-6.
“My coach said we needed to get it to our outside hitters,” Richardson said after the Tigers fell behind 2-1 in the fifth game.
With Richardson on the left side and Prairie View’s blockers in the middle and on the Tigers’ right side, it was a good tactic.
Running the offense from the left side worked well as Richardson got a stuff at the net and back-to-back kills to help Grand Junction pull away.
“The majority of our offense is going to have to go through Britney,” Tigers head coach Lynette Robinson said.
Richardson finished with 20 kills.
That was during Rolbiecki’s run at the service line. The Tigers had committed 16 service errors in the first four games before Rolbiecki’s run. Although she served three aces, her primary strategy was merely to get the serve in play.
“We don’t need aces,” Robinson said. “Everything funnels through Traci. If we can get it to her, we can get it to our outside hitters.”
Rolbiecki, the libero and defensive specialist, had 18 digs.
“She did that against Moffat County too,” Robinson said of Rolbiecki going on long service runs during the
Tigers’ three-game victory in Craig earlier in the week.
With Grand Junction pumped up for its home opener, Robinson and Richardson both agreed that the loss in the first-game was partly because of adrenaline.
“They weren’t relaxed,” Robinson said.
“We decided we needed to calm down and focus on our side of the net and not their side of the net,” Richardson said.
The result was convincing victories in the second and third games before the Thunderhawks rallied from a deficit to win a close fourth game.
“(Prairie View) really picked it up in the fourth game (and) we weren’t talking as much,” Richardson said.
“Overall we’re doing well,” Robinson said of a team that returned only four players from last year’s squad.
“If we play our game, we’re going to be hard to beat,” she said.
“What was missing (last year) was confidence,” said Robinson, who was co-head coach for the last half of last season. “They needed someone who believes in them.”
The Tigers (4-2) head to Gypsum on Tuesday to face Eagle Valley.