Battles to five-set win
by Than Acuff
There’s no question the Titans volleyball team has got what it takes to compete—they just need it all of the time. The team showed flashes of brilliance over the course of two matches Saturday, October 17 but inconsistency spelled their demise in one match, while they rallied to win the second match of the day.
Hopes were high for an upset when the Titans opened the day against the Sargent Farmers. The Farmers sit in first place in the league but the Titans took them to five sets the last time the two met, ultimately losing. Playing on their home court, the Titans were hoping to take their effort to the next level against Sargent and pull off an upset win, but they would need a near-perfect match to do it.
Things were looking good in the first set of the day as the Titans set the tone early, winning the first point after an extended rally.
Crested Butte maintained that energy throughout the first set, battling for each point with Madison Mollison, Isabel Young and Annie Duryea coming up with key tips and kills.
Sargent threatened to pull away, firing off four points in a row but the Titans climbed back into the set and the teams were locked in a 20-20 tie. They traded off points and were tied 25-25 until Young and Caroline Chandler fired off back-to-back kills for the 27-25 Titans win.
As is often the case in volleyball, the game ebbs and flows based on a team’s energy and the Farmers asserted themselves in the second set, rolling to a 25-13 win to tie the match 1-1.
Things looked to spiral out of control for the Titans in the third set as they soon found themselves down 10 points, but their resolve shone through once again. Key hits from Mollison and Avery Pulley had the Titans surging and then Young took over at the net with a couple of blocks and a big kill to pull the Titans within two points before Sargent called a time-out.
Young continued her effort at the net following the time-out with a tip and a kill, and the two teams were locked in a 23-23 tie but Sargent clamped down to win the next two points and the set 25-23.
Once again Crested Butte put on a late surge in the fourth set to pull within one point, down 23-22, but the Farmers managed to shut the door for good, winning the fourth set 25-22 and the match.
Young finished the match with 15 blocks and leads the district in total blocks on the season. Young and junior Annie Duryea had seven kills, followed by junior Caroline Chandler with five kills and only one error. Senior defensive specialist Ericka Bremer had 22 digs and only six dig errors.
“We showed up to the battle against the Farmers,” says coach Marla Covey. “Except for a lapse in the second set and falling behind by 10 points in the third set, I thought the team worked hard and did not quit. There were long rallies and it was a fun match to watch as both teams worked hard.”
As a testament to the Titans squad this year, they lined back up later that day to face the Del Norte Tigers and fought through five sets to emerge with the win.
The Titans opened strong again to win the first set 25-18 but the two teams traded off through the next three sets. After dropping the second and third sets 25-20, 25-23, Crested Butte battled their way through the fourth set and held on for the 25-23 win, paced by some strong serving at the end by Mollison and Duryea.
The match would come down to the fifth and final set with the first team to 15 taking it. The Titans jumped out to a 4-0 lead but stumbled and the two teams were locked in an 8-8 tie when the Tigers won five of the next seven points to build a 13-10 lead. Pulley would not be denied though and, with her team down 10-13, she rattled off four serves to get the Titans to 14. Every point included extended, excruciating rallies before the Titans finished off with two straight points to take the match.
Young and Duryea led the team with seven kills each, followed by Chandler with five. Pulley finished the day with 200 sets on the day, providing her hitters plenty of opportunities to score.
“As the scores indicate, this one was a battle from the first point also,” says Covey. “We have stayed in and battled in several five-set matches without getting the win, so to come out on top of this one showed some mental toughness we hadn’t shown in a couple of weeks.”
The Titans close out the regular season on the road as they head to Center for matches against Center and Cripple Creek on Friday, October 23.