Lady Titans open league play against volleyball archrival

Look ahead to four league matches in a row

The Titan volleyball team jumped into the deep end with four matches in three days last week.


Thursday, the Titans traveled to Saguache to start the season against the Mountain Valley Indians. While the Titans are starting only their second season in the San Juan League, a rivalry has developed with the Indians.
The first season in the league the Indians and Titans played four times. The teams split two and two and a share of the league championship. The Titans won the first and last matches of the season taking the final win of the season in a five-set knockdown battle at the regional tournament in Gunnison. As the bus drove away the smell of autumn and a rematch was in the air.
Armed with positive attitude mantra, new bright pink t-shirts and four new starters, the Titans prepared to take on a team that lost no players to graduation last season. The first match of the season jitters plagued both teams at the start forcing the Titans to work through their nerves quickly against the hard-hitting Indians. Titans knew that blocking the key Indian hitters would be crucial to having any success, as an imposing block is the first line of defense and should force teams to alter their attack and allow the defense a better chance to dig hits and deceptive tips.
Junior Karleigh Dean and senior Kelsey Beltz took on the blocking challenge as the middles and teamed up with right side blockers senior Hillari Spencer and sophomore Sydney Jernigan to work on being big, loud and fronting each attack. Each player stepped up and met the challenge head on getting multiple touches and several stuff blocks. The defense of senior Sydney Loyed and junior Shannon Holleran and junior defensive specialist Asya Stillo worked hard to pick up what got through the block.
The Indians jumped out to a quick lead but the Titans team stayed positive and continued to dig their hits and volley it back over and over, which frustrated the Indian hitters. Even though the Titans fell behind in the first game they battled back finally falling 17 to 25.
The next game the Titans started on fire, jumping out to a five-point lead with some devastating serves by Sydney Jernigan, including three aces putting the Indians on their heels. Three rotations later Hillari Spencer added a run of six more points.
After thinking they won the game at 26 to 24, the Titans were called for a net violation, and forced to dig in again but eventually lost the game 26-28. The Indians then capitalized on the momentum of winning the tight second and won the final set 25-17.
Co-captain and three-year starter Sydney Loyed commented after the match, “For the first match of the season, I thought we played very well against a tough team. Our passing, defense and blocking kept us in the match. We have work to do, but we proved we can be very competitive with a very strong team. Overall with four new starters we all worked and played as a team in a tough match.”
Saturday morning brought a trip to Montrose for a three match round robin tournament. First match was against Moffat County JV and the Titans came out confidently and took the best of three in straight sets 25-16 and 25-21. Setters Hillari Spencer and Sydney Jernigan dispersed the ball evenly with six players getting kills. Sydney Jernigan showed her strong serve again, scoring 11 points and three aces during the match.
Their next match was against former league rival the Ouray Trojans. The Titans again took the match in straight sets 25-13 and 25-20. Sydney Loyed led the hitters with three kills and no hitting errors and scored 10 points on her serve. Asya Stillo as defensive specialist patrolled the back line, making several perfect passes to set up the offense.
The final match against the Grand Junction JV proved disappointing for the Titans as the team struggled to find a consistent rhythm the entire match. Passing and mental errors plagued the Titans against the consistent play of the GJ team. The Titans dropped their last match of the day 17-25 and 15-25.
The Montrose tournament offered the Titans a chance to work on playing their game against teams with different styles and tempos. The Titans need to learn from the experience quickly, because Saturday, September 12 the varsity team travels to Sierra Grande to compete in the mini tournament that pits the Titans against four league opponents Holy Trinity, Aguilar, Sierra Grande and Primero.

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