Teams volley at net to reach districts
Sometimes it’s difficult for a team or player to pinpoint one moment that changed the season.
But in the case of the Palisade volleyball team, it’s pretty easy.
Following two 0-3 losses to Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain, the Bulldogs defeated Glenwood Springs 3-0, then rattled off wins in three of its next four matches to close the season.
“That Glenwood game was our turning point because after that, we had a lot of confidence and came together as a team,” senior Chelsea Lorimor said. “At the beginning of the year we were still tying to figure out what type of team we had.”
Palisade could be described as a scrappy team. Not blessed with outstanding size, the Bulldogs relied on other aspects of the game to get them to a 11-8 overall record and a berth in the District 8 tournament this weekend at Rock Canyon High School.
“We have relied a lot on our defense,” one of the Bulldogs’ attack leaders, Kendra Collette ,said. “We are not the biggest team, so we have learned to be a lot smarter with our hitting and where we are placing it.”
The Bulldogs were the third seed out of the Western Slope League, which put them into District 8 with Rock Canyon as the host and Montrose, Battle Mountain, Harrison and Cañon City. The top team out of the WSL, Eagle Valley, is hosting a district with Montezuma-Cortez, Steamboat Springs, Delta, Mullen and Glenwood Springs.
“There is a good combination of some teams we saw early in the year when weren’t playing our best and some teams we have never seen,” Palisade coach Wendy MacAskill said. “After playing the same team a couple of times, it will be nice to see some new faces.”
Palisade lost both its matches to Battle Mountain this season winning only one game against the Huskies. The Bulldogs also faced Montrose at the Mesa Ridge Tournament in early September and were swept by the Indians.
Having the tough teams in the same district serves as motivation to the Bulldogs.
“We haven’t put up a good game against those teams yet,” Collette said. “But we have been working for it all year and we will make sure we are all clicking.”
Regardless of how the Bulldogs finish, it is a step in the right direction for the program that finished sixth in league last season after winning four WSL games.
“We have a strong tradition of qualifying for postseason play,” MacAskill said. “It is an expectation and hopefully things come together to make it to regionals.”
Play begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday as the Bulldogs begin the tournament with Canon City before taking on Rock Cañyon at 11:30.
At the 5A level, Fruita Monument will be at the District 2 tournament hosted by Grandview, with Arapahoe, Ponderosa, Fountain Fort Carson and Hinkley all in attendance. Central is at District 7, where Denver East is the host. Doherty, Legacy, Dakota Ridge and Littleton will all be fighting for the two spots to regionals.
Coal Ridge is the only Western Slope team hosting a tournament, in Class 3A. The Titans will play host to the Classical Academy, Roaring Fork and Salida. Gunnison, Basalt and Aspen all qualified for district tournaments but are on the road.