“I appreciate when they fight for a win like that”
by Than Acuff
Crested Butte Titans volleyball coach Morgan McNallie has played and coached volleyball nearly all of her life, including a number of years at a very competitive level, and has never seen a set go to 30 points—until now.
The match against the Custer County Bobcats on Friday, September 29 was meant to be tough but winnable as the Titans played Custer County earlier in the season and took them down in straight sets. During the first set it appeared the same would happen in their second meeting as the Titans started off strong, building an early lead. A small lull allowed Custer County back into the set but the Titans tightened their grip and finished it off with a 25-19 win.
The Bobcats stepped up their game in the second set and started picking the corners with well-placed hits, pushing the Titans into a state of disarray.
“That is something we’ve been struggling with all season,” says McNallie.
Fortunately, Crested Butte remained resolute and after another lull, they recovered to win the second set 25-22.
“We didn’t play our best and almost let it get away from us,” says McNallie. “We started off quiet and the crowd was quiet and we don’t play our game when the gym is quiet. We really need the crowd because we feed off of that.”
The quiet gym and a team breakdown in communication while Custer County started surging led to the Titans’ demise in the third set as they fell 25-18 to tack on a fourth set to the battle.
“We had major communication issues and there was a little bit of the blame game going on in that set,” says McNallie.
Prior to the match McNallie had her players write down three goals for the game and when the team reached the bench prior to the fourth set, McNallie had them go over their pre-match goals to reset their heads.
The Titans took to the floor for the fourth set with a refreshed attitude. Maisy Ramsey spent some quality points playing on the back line and rebuilt her confidence to take her game up a notch at the net. Niki Rehberg started taking over as the libero and the entire team fed off their newfound confidence.
“The team chemistry definitely pulled together,” says McNallie.
But Custer County wasn’t done as both teams seemed well aware that if the match went to a fifth and final set, the Bobcats could very well take the match.
The two teams spent the entire fourth set trading off attacks. The two teams continued to dig for every point as they neared the match point mark of 25 but neither team could knock the other one down. Each team faced down set points and let set points get away from them until they were locked 28-28. Crested Butte finally did what needed to be done, winning the next two points to win the set 30-28 and take the match.
“It always great to see that side out of them,” says McNallie. “I appreciate when they fight for a win like that.”
Regrettably, that fight was nowhere to be found on Saturday, September 30 as they headed to Telluride and lost in straight sets as hitting and serving errors plagued the team all match.
“Telluride wasn’t our game,” says McNallie. “I hope we never play like that again all season.”
The Titans now enter a frantic portion of their schedule as they have four matches in four days, finishing with matches against Center and Del Norte on Saturday, October 6. Meanwhile, the team is also suffering from a rash of injuries and will lose some players to the October break.
“We’ll see what we can do and what we can pull out,” says McNallie. “Hopefully we stay in a positive game state of mind.”