Struggles to carry momentum into weekend
by Than Acuff
All eyes were on the Crested Butte Titans volleyball team as they opened the Homecoming weekend against the Center Vikings on Thursday evening, September 15.
The weekend was packed with Titans Homecoming action with all sports competing in the valley, but the volleyball team had the dubious distinction of kicking things off and they did so in style, taking down the Vikings in straight sets.
Unfortunately, the Titans couldn’t bring the momentum from the win into their matches on Saturday, September 17, as they fell to both Sargents and Custer County.
“We had the same problems as the last week,” says coach Heather Perry. “Lack of mental toughness and intensity.”
The Center Vikings are a mixed bag year in and year out. Some seasons they are scrappy and talented and can give the Titans fits. Other years, while still scrappy, they struggle with a dearth of consistent talent. This year the Vikings were the latter and while the Titans did win in straight sets, they almost got dragged into Center’s game.
Crested Butte won the first game fairly easily and were on course to an easy win in the second game but stalled temporarily once they were up 20-11. Eventually they pulled themselves together enough to win the second game 25-17.
“That was a great example of where we lacked mental toughness,” says Perry.
The Vikings then gave the Titans a run for their money in the third game and when Crested Butte was down 20-18, Perry called a timeout to regroup the squad. They recovered enough to win seven of the next eight points to take the game 25-21 and the match.
“They kept their intensity up enough to get the win and the fact that we won in three sets is a good thing, but sometimes it’s not just about winning but how you win,” says Perry.
Perry gave the team some food for thought as they prepared for their two matches on Saturday, asking them to find their “fighting spirit,” and while they did to open each of the two matches, the Titans ultimately fell in straight sets to both Sargents and Custer County.
The start to the Sargents match was promising for the Titans but a run of points ultimately spelled the Titans’ demise.
“We have moments and then the other team gets a few points in a row and we fall apart,” says Perry.
Custer County should have been a lot tighter, but again, after a strong first set, the Titans fell apart. Paced by blocks and kills from Isabel Young, Annie Duryea and some smart play at the net from Avery Pulley, the Titans battled hard in the opening set. Maddie Mollison came up with a soft kill to put the Titans up 18-16, but back-to-back errors by the Titans let Custer County recover and carry on for the 25-21 win.
“We usually go neck-and-neck with Custer County and the first game was an example of that, but then they just checked out,” says Perry.
The Titans dug themselves a big hole early in the second set to fall 25-11 and then fell behind five points early in the third set and could never pull back into the set to lose the match.
“It was just too little, too late,” says Perry.
The team heads to Cripple Creek on Friday, September 23 and Perry is expecting a win there. They then head down-valley to face Gunnison on Tuesday, September 27.
“It’s the first time in the eight years I’ve been coaching that we’ve played them,” says Perry. “Even though they’re not in our league, in my mind it’s a big match.”