Seniors help Fruita stay perfect in SWL with win over Central
They attack. They defend. They pass. They work together. They’re patient.
The eight seniors on the Fruita Monument High School volleyball team do what veteran players are supposed to do, and at the midpoint of the Southwestern League season, they are who they are supposed to be.
The Wildcats once again displayed their prowess in all phases of the game as they defeated Central 25-14, 25-15, 25-17 and finished the first half of the SWL slate 5-0.
“I just think we’re a tough team to beat, a tough team to score against,” Fruita coach Bob Richardson said. “Our seniors have been together a long time. They’ve seen a lot, and they know what to do.”
The team’s balance was evident from the outset, but outside hitter Loryn Chiapuzio stepped to the front as the Wildcats pulled away from a 6-6 tie in Game 1. Chiapuzio delivered points eight and 10 with a hit into a block and a hard cross-court kill. Then after a Lindsey Thomson ace, Chiapuzio dropped a tip into open space behind a Central blocker, and another powerful hit into a block gave Fruita a 15-7 lead.
The Warriors got no closer than seven points thereafter.
Game 2 played out similarly to Game 1. Central pulled within 7-5, then Fruita pulled away, scoring the next five points, highlighted by an ace from Thomson and a Chiapuzio kill. The Wildcats ran their lead to eight points several times, with MacKenzie Schuller’s blocking coming into play a couple of times for points.
Game 3 looked like it would be more of the same when Fruita pushed a 7-5 lead to 13-6, but Central answered with its best stretch of play all night, rallying to tie the game 13-13 behind the serving of Shayla Laws and a rare string of return errors by the Wildcats.
Fruita reasserted itself, though, scoring the next five points with Chiapuzio serving after her kill stopped the Warriors’ run. Chiapuzio served two aces in that stretch, and Jordan Eatwell delivered one of her five kills down the stretch en route to 10 for the match.
Wildcats setter Savannah Ashmore said Central’s defense has gotten better, but Fruita’s experience separated it from the Warriors.
“I think we just know how to terminate a little better than they do,” said Ashmore, who had 36 assists. “And we’re a little more patient with our defense. ... We’re patient in that we know we have a good defense, and we know we’ll get a pass where we can run something they haven’t seen before, and we’ll get a kill.”
Evidence of the defense and Fruita’s balance showed in the statistics as Joelle LeFevre led the Wildcats with 25 digs, and Chiapuzio, Eatwell and Allie Hatch each added 13 digs.
Although Fruita has a polished product, Central is learning how to play as a team under first-year coach Jennifer Armendariz.
“We stopped playing as a team. We kind of stopped believing in each other,” she said of Tuesday’s loss.
The comeback in Game 3 was a good sign, though, and Armendariz said the Warriors have the pieces to become a better team, much better than the one that went 1-4 in the first half of SWL play.
“It’s not over,” she said. “We’re going to figure it out.”