Lady Titans emerge from San Luis vortex with four wins

Prepare for post season

The Titan volleyball team hit the road Friday for the start of a five-match weekend squaring off first against the Moffat Cowboys. Due to illness and fall break, the squad was whittled down to nine players who would have to prove to be both strong and adaptable for the long weekend.
A much-improved Moffat team battled the Titans the first set on Friday evening, playing scrappy defense. The Titans set out to reduce unforced errors, particularly behind the service line. The first set the Titans served 100 percent and won 28-26. The loss seemed to knock the wind out of the Cowboys and the Titans went on to win the match 25-17, 25-18.
After a night in Alamosa the Titans journeyed to Blanca for a four-match league tournament. The players often think that Blanca exists in some strange vortex, since some players’ cell phone clocks are suddenly an hour off and cell reception is sketchy at best.
The first match was a high noon showdown against Holy Trinity. The Tigers have been coming on strong with a couple of key league wins over Sierra Grande and Creede. The Titans started off where they left off on Friday, with a 25-11 win in the first set. The second set the wheels started falling off the bus, and senior Sydney Loyed who had been battling back pain all week had to leave the match. Without Loyed, the Titans struggled a little but took the second set 25-18. Just into the third set, junior hitter Shannon Holleran cut her head and had to leave the game for treatment. Without two all-around players the Titans struggled and dropped the third set 18-25.
While Holleran was able to reenter the match later, the Titans lost their rhythm while the Tigers gained confidence. The out of sync Titans dropped the fourth set 19-25. Despite solid play from defensive specialist Asya Stillo and good blocks by both Karleigh Dean and Kelsey Beltz, the Titans could not pull together a string of points-on. With players in new positions, the Titans could not find their mojo and proceeded to drop the final set 5-15. The Titans walked off the court shell-shocked after dropping a match they had dominated for the first two sets.
The day was far from over and the Titans huddled up and knew they needed to pull it together to meet the adversity and changes head-on or risk their standing in the league and their potential district seating. Meeting tough challenges now could prove beneficial if the Titans are to go far in the post season. The coaches worked on new lineups with the limited number of players available.
Volleyball is a game of rhythm and timing and throwing players into new positions often takes time to adjust but the Titans did not have time. They had to work to find the flow as quickly as possible. As the Titan fans put Band-Aids on their left eyes in solidarity with Holleran’s new look, the Titans took a breath and took the court to play Primero. The coaches shifted sophomore setter Sydney Jernigan to a middle hitter because of her strong passing, blocking and hitting skills. Junior Karleigh Dean shifted from middle to outside hitter, replacing the injured Loyed. Senior Hillari Spencer went from sharing setting duties to setting all around.
Senior Ali Turner and sophomore Natalie Bowen played a variety of positions in the matches for the rest of the day. Turner and Bowen demonstrated their versatility and were the right components at different times to help the team work together again. Together the Titans in a new lineup worked on getting back their confidence. They battled and beat Primero in three straight sets, 25-15, 25-22, and 27-25.
After watching Moffat defeat Holy Trinity, the Titans took the court against Centennial. The team still had to work through miscues and adjustments but won the third match of the day winning in straight sets 25-21, 25-11 and 27-25.
The final match of the day started just after 7:30 p.m. and the Titans faced the Aguilar Wildcats. Both teams were playing their fourth match of the day and energy was low as the match began. The Titans had to find some positive energy and push through the mental and physical fatigue. This late in the day the match may be decided not by talent or even luck, but by sheer determination and positive energy.
Senor Ali Turner decided she was going to create enough positive energy that the team would have no choice but to follow her lead. She went after every ball and cheering every good Titan play. Much like the flu virus, enthusiasm is highly contagious and Turner’s attitude proved key in getting the team through the last match. Bowen stepped in the final set of the night and provided another positive spark to the team and the Titans held on to win the final match of the day, 25-18, 25-21 and 25-15.
The nine players took another collective sigh of relief. The two-day five-match extravaganza in the San Luis Valley vortex was done. While the team did not leave unscathed, they proved to other teams and to themselves they had the power to put the wheels back on the bus and take control as a team. The Titans improved their overall record to 14-4 and will take some time during fall break to get healthy. The Titans have one more key league match in Creede on Friday, October 23.
Being in the top four in the Southern Peaks league allows the Titans to host the district match on Tuesday, October 27. Mark your calendars now to come out and support the Titans as they begin post season play.

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