by Stan Cola
Just one week prior, the Crested Butte Titans volleyball team fell to the South Park Burros, but they rallied to avenge the loss, taking down South Park three sets to two in mighty Mt. Olympus on Friday, September 11.
The Titans got off to a slow start in their first home match of the season, dropping the first set 25-14 with service down to 71 percent. They improved, albeit slightly, bringing their service percentage up to 75 percent but other mental errors continued to haunt them and they committed more hitting errors than kills, leading to a 25-17 loss in the second set.
“The first two sets did not represent how the Titans play,” says coach Marla Covey. “I am not exactly sure if it was home game jitters or trying too hard in front of the home crowd, but some of the strongest servers and passers struggled with the skills they do best. The team just could not find a rhythm and did not play like they had earlier in the season.”
It was do-or-die for the Titans as they took the court for the third set. Lose and the match is over, win and they gain some momentum and continue the match. The Titans settled down and played smarter in the third set, building off some success found late in their second set loss. The team evened up attacking stats with equal number of kills and errors, and serving improved to 92.5 percent with five of the Titans serving 100 percent. Those two simple things allowed the Titans to begin playing with some confidence and they won the tightly fought third set 27-25, knocking the Burros back a bit as the Titans worked to continue to play smarter.
The fourth set the Titans stayed even or within a point or two with the Burros through the first rotation, then slowly started getting a point or two with each rotation. Kills started to outnumber errors and the Titans came up with key blocks to help them gradually build a lead to win the set 25-15, forcing a fifth set to determine the match.
The team then rallied off their 92.8 percent service success and showed their passing strength in the fifth set. Quality passing provided opportunities for the Titans offense to place smart hits and tips, cruising to a 15-6 set win to take the match.
“The come-from-behind win demonstrated some strength of character and a level of determination I haven’t seen in a Titans volleyball team in some time,” says Covey. “The team is still young with only a few players with significant varsity experience, but I hope this provides each player some confidence that the team has the ability to play hard and come together as a team to be successful.”
The Titans return to the road this weekend as they head to Del Norte for matches against league opponents Del Norte and Sargent. They will then host their homecoming matches against Cripple Creek and Center in Mt. Olympus on Saturday, September 26.
“If they learn anything from this I hope they learn that often that level of determination and confidence comes from within and also from their teammates, from the players they practice and play with every day,” says Covey. “It is an entire team that wins and loses matches and not just the ones on the court at the moment of a hard-fought victory.”