The Fruita Monument High School volleyball team entered 2018 as the defending Southwestern League champion.

With eight seniors from the 2017 team graduating, a repeat seemed unlikely.

Tuesday night's 25-11, 25-7, 25-18 victory over Grand Junction ensured the Wildcats would repeat as SWL champs.

With one SWL game remaining, the closest competition for the Fruita Monument (14-2, 7-0 SWL) is Montrose (11-6, 4-2).

The Wildcats dominated the Tigers (7-14, 1-6 SWL), with Gabby Rigsby leading the way.

The senior finished with 15 kills, including back-to-back kills early in the second game to spark a nine-point run for Fruita, and also had three aces. Fellow senior Campbell Atkins added 10 kills in the win.

"I felt pretty good," Rigsby said. "It's Senior Night and our last time playing Junction, so I think we carried that momentum into the game."

Coach Bob Richardson credited the seniors, who were honored before the game, with Tuesday's strong performance.

"It was really emotional," Fruita senior Emma Hough said. "We've been playing together since middle school, so it's sad that it is coming to an end."

Richardson said the first game was particularly strong for Wildcats. He said Fruita's focus on not committing errors helped its get off to an early start in the match.

"We played a clean game, meaning we didn't start with a lot of errors," Richardson said. "Our first game might have been our best of the year."

Richardson also credited the senior setter Madie Price for her play. Price finished with 37 assists.

"Madie Price had a really nice night setting," Richardson said. "The balls were on target. She made the hitters look good."

With the Southwestern League title in hand, Fruita will soon head into the regional playoffs. The top 12 teams host regionals and Fruita is currently ranked ninth in the 5A RPI standings. RPI is used to rank teams based on their wins and losses, as well as strength of schedule.

"We're growing as a team and getting more used to each other," Rigsby said. "I think we're doing well right now so we have a good chance going into the playoffs."

Grand Junction kept the score close in the third game, mounting several long rallies. Senior Breck Smith led the Tigers with six kills. Coach Jeff Wells said poor communication hurt the team in the match.

Montrose defeated Central 22-25, 25-15, 25-19, 23-25, 15-9.

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