COLORADO SPRINGS — The Palisade Bulldogs had waited 25 years for a chance to get back to the state volleyball tournament. After advancing through regionals, they made the trek to Colorado Springs to represent the school in a way that hadn’t been done since years before anyone on the roster was born.
A hot start fizzled out Wednesday and the sixth-seeded Palmer Ridge Bears swept the Bulldogs 25-17, 25-9, 25-14 to advance to the Class 4A girls volleyball semifinals.
With the loss, the Bulldogs (13-3) were eliminated and will have to wait until next season to etch their names even deeper in the school history books.
“We definitely came in not in the mindset that we just made it,” coach Wendy MacAskill said. “We still wanted more, we still wanted to compete and not to just show up. But this is definitely new to our program, it’s been a long time since we’ve been here.”
Since 1995, to be exact.
There are several ways to look at the result of Wednesday’s loss. There is certainly disappointment in entering the bracket as the No. 3 seed and not advancing into the semifinals. But given the difficult nature of getting to the state tournament for Palisade, the players still had the proper mindset that it’s difficult to be there. And the result shouldn’t water down the accomplish of getting to state and the experience of playing at the Broadmoor World Arena.
“It was cool, especially for this team to be the one to do it,” senior Kendyl MacAskill said. “We’ve been playing together for so long and we’ve been through a ton of stuff together and especially with all the stuff that has happened this year. This is the team from Palisade that was made for this tournament and was able to get here and play.”
It didn’t go their way, but there was potential that it would. The Bulldogs started strong and took a 6-1 lead in the first set, seemingly taking control of the match.
But the Bears were resilient. They advanced to the state championship match last year and returned several of their standouts, including Riley Anderson who had 143 kills heading into the match.
As Palmer Ridge started narrowing the Palisade lead in the first set, the Bulldogs became a bit more unsettled. They had trouble on both ends of the serve and their mistakes were felt as Palmer Ridge built a 10-7 lead in the set and never relinquished control of the match from there.
“We lost the serve and serve receive battle today,” Wendy MacAskill said. “That had been a strength of ours all season. We serve tough and we have really good ball control. We faulted a little bit and just had trouble getting into system.”
Kendyl MacAskill led the Bulldogs with 11 kills and six total blocks. Ella Yanowich had two aces and Caylee Chutka had seven digs in the loss.
Kade Bessert threw 6 1/3 innings of four-hit ball, striking out 14 batters, and Fruita’s bats broke out in the sixth inning of an 8-1 win at Montrose.
Fruita (4-2, 2-0 Southwestern League) scored one run in each of the first three innings. In the first, Cort McDaniel drove in Jacob Weaver with a single. In the second, Joel Lively doubled and scored on an error when the Indians (2-2, 0-2 SWL) couldn’t handle Tucker Buniger’s ground ball. In the third, a sacrifice fly by Jace Hinton scored McDaniel for a 3-0 lead.
The Wildcats built on that advantage with a five-run sixth. Gentry Dalpiaz hit a one-out double to start Fruita’s surge. Buniger singled and Weaver was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
In the next four plate appearances, McDaniel hit an RBI single, Jack Dere drew a bases-loaded walk, Hinton lifted a sacrifice fly and Dylan Noah added a two-run single.
Montrose’s only run came in the final inning when Torrie Eckerman doubled in a run.
Central improved to 2-1 with a dominating 6-1 performance at Basalt. Curtrice Hansen won 6-0, 6-2 in No. 2 singles and Jessica Warner won 6-0, 6-0 in No. 3 singles.
In No. 1 doubles, Adi Hill and Jordan Bauer won 6-0, 6-2. In No. 2 doubles, Lenah Anderson and Tsifira Berger won 6-1, 6-1. In No. 3 doubles, Jennika Quintana and Alexis Wickham won 6-4, 6-3. In No. 4 doubles, Caysee Calton and Claire Dziwisz won 6-0, 6-0.