Wildcats hang tough, still fall to Durango

Fruita Monument High School volleyball coach Bob Richardson knew his team would face a challenge Friday against Durango.

After all, the Demons were last year’s Southwestern League champions and brought with them the experienced hitting of SWL player of the year Sloan Lovett.

With that in mind, Richardson wasn’t too disappointed with the 25-19, 25-19, 25-18 loss.

“We played hard, I just have to hand it to Durango. They are just the class of the league right now,” Richardson said. “They are the defending champions and played like it.”

In the three games, Durango made a consistent defensive effort, starting with digs in the middle and back.

The defense led to offense based around setter Natalie Bulen, who found outside hitters Claire Ochsner, Lovett and Mckenna Franzen with ease.

“I can’t say enough about Natalie,” Durango coach Robin Oliger said. “She’s got beautiful hands.”

The Wildcats (10-2, 2-1 SWL) held their own early in each game of the match.

In the first game, Fruita had a 6-5 lead until Durango went on an 8-3 run to make it 13-9. Fruita then went on a run behind kills from Ashley Martin and MacKenzie Schuller to tie it 15-15. Then, behind Bulen’s sets, Durango scored 10 of the final 14 points of the game.

Fruita fell behind 14-10 in the second game, but worked back and narrowed the lead to 19-17 when an attack by Franzen went out of bounds. Durango again got a lift from Bulen and Lovett, allowing only two more points for the Wildcats, and won it on a kill by Ochsner.

In the final game, Fruita held its own until the teams were tied 17-17, at which point Durango went on a 9-1.

Jordan Eatwell led Fruita with six kills and Michelle Midgley had 16 digs.

Cortez 3, Grand Junction 1: Justine Roof had 10 kills, three blocks and two aces and Madi Gastineau had 14 digs and four kills, but the Tigers couldn’t get past the Panthers at home, falling 25-16, 25-19, 18-25, 25-18. Alicia Copp added 14 assists, Sabrina Trujillo four blocks and Lacee Kilgore three aces for Grand Junction.

Cross Country

Fruita Monument got a look at the regional course, running in the Aurora Invitational. The girls finished second and the boys third, with Kyler Brown winning the boys race in 16 minutes, 32 seconds. Chuck Bisbee was fourth in 17:02. Alex Rico finished in 17:44, Blaine Wood in 18:01 and Victor Zamora in 18:12.

None of the Wildcat girls finished in the top 10, but they ran as a group, led by Michaela Hoffman, who clocked a 21:53. Sarah Horen was right behind her in 22:05, Karen Rico in 22:10 Cassie Ahrens in 22:39 and Rea McLaughin in 23:02. Fairview won both the boys and girls races.

In Ridgway, the Grand Junction boys placed second behind Delta, with Charlie Medina winning the race in 19:06. Greg Echer was fourth in 19:27. Grand Junction’s girls were third behind Delta and Montrose, with Trinity Simmons placing sixth in 24:15.


Grand Junction got a 6-3, 6-3 win from defending state champion Spencer Weinberg at No. 1 singles against Matt Sawyer, leading the Tigers to a 6-1 win over Denver East, winning all six matches in straight sets.

At the Pueblo South Invitational, Fruita Monument freshman Matt Harris will play in the No. 3 singles semifinals today against Andrew Vinner of Cheyenne Mountain. Harris defeated Josh Setzer of Widefield 6-3, 6-3 and Eric Brown of Ponderosa 7-5, 6-2. All of the other Wildcats went 1-1.

Delta County Invitational: Montrose has a one-point lead over Aspen and Central, with 47 points after the first day.

In the No. 1 singles final today, Jesi Nordstrom of Central will face Aaron Arellano of Montrose. Nordstrom defeated Aspen’s Grand Goodman 6-2, 6-3 in the semifinals.

The Warriors’ Drake Giesse plays Phurba Sherpa of Montrose for the No. 2 singles title and the No. 2 doubles team of Jon Leonard and Travis Liden is in the title match.


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