Warriors top Tigers in a five-set thriller

Central’s Kimber Baker, right, spikes the ball over the net Tuesday night during the second game of the Warriors’ five-set win over rival Grand Junction. Central is tied with Montrose for third place in the Southwestern League.

For the second time this season, the Central High School volleyball team upset rival Grand Junction in a five-set thriller, winning 20-25, 25-20, 12-25, 25-18 and 15-12 on Tuesday night.

“We really kept together as a team and played hard,” Central sophomore Rayleigh Norton said. “It feels really good to play underdog to them twice this year.”

The Warriors (5-10, 3-4 Southwestern League) are tied with Montrose for third place in the league with three games remaining. The Tigers (8-8, 2-5 SWL) are trying to recover from a rough stretch of conference games.

“I told the girls that I have to sleep on this and figure out what we’re going to do,” Grand Junction coach Leslie Vines said.

The Tigers took a 13-4 lead to begin the first game before Central pulled within four. A double-hit gave the Tigers a 25-20 win.

Central rebounded in the second set, taking an 8-4 lead and barely hanging on. Grand Junction senior Alicia Copp had three straight aces as the Tigers closed the gap to three, but an error and an ace from Norton gave the Warriors a 25-20 win.

The Tigers’ front row helped shift momentum in the third set, notching four straight kills and seven unanswered points as they cruised to a 25-12 victory.

Central controlled the fourth set, leading by as many as 10 points to win 25-18.

The teams battled for control in the fifth set, tying four different times. Central sealed the win with when Grand Junction senior Kricket Adleman pushed a spike wide, giving the Warriors the 15-12 win in the final set.

“We finished well, which is something we’ve been struggling to do this year,” Central coach Beth Nelson said.

Senior Kimber Baker led the Warriors with 10 kills and sophomore Taylor Head added seven kills and notched a team-high eight blocks. Norton had 28 assists and two aces.

For the Tigers, Adleman led with 10 kills and junior Kacie Jay had 19 digs. Junior Justine Roof added seven blocks.

“I’m happy with our chances to finish out the season and hopefully make something happen in the playoffs,” Nelson said. “We have a young group of girls that have really stepped up when we’ve needed them to and a group of seniors who have done a great job.”

Montrose 3, Fruita Monument 1: The Wildcats kept the match close, but couldn’t come out with the win in Montrose.

The Wildcats (11-5, 4-3 SWL) lost 25-22, 24-26, 25-17 and 25-21.

“We need to be tougher mentally and make it through the game without mental mistakes,” Fruita coach Bob Richardson said.

Michelle Midgley had 41 digs and Denae Ungaro had 20 assists in the loss. Teddi Larson led the Wildcats with 10 kills.


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