Titans volleyball knocks down two wins in season opener

“Overall it was a good first weekend”

By Than Acuff

With two weeks of preseason workouts under their belts, the Crested Butte Titans volleyball team won two of three games in the opening weekend of the 2023 season on Saturday, August 18.

Teams from Mountain Valley, Cotopaxi and Creede came to mighty Mt. Olympus for the daylong tournament playing in a best of three format in each contest, giving the Titans an opportunity to put all their preseason work to the test.

“Overall I think they were ready,” says coach Marla Covey. “It was just the little things that got us.”

They started the day bright and early against Mountain Valley, and Covey saw a difference in her team from past years right off the bat.

“There were some jitters, but I didn’t see the nerves I usually do,” says Covey.

That confidence played out in the game as the Titans took the upper hand immediately. With strong serving from Hailey Huresky in her first varsity start, confident setting from Elise Hanna and powerful hitting from Mandala Covey Bleiberg and Mia O’Neil, the Titans rolled to a 25-6, 25-7 win over the Mountain Valley Indians.

“We were definitely the bigger team and they didn’t hit much at us, but we handled what they gave us,” says Covey. “It’s always good to get a win under your belt.”

The Titans returned to the floor later that day to face the Cotopaxi Pirates. Crested Butte had a rough go against Cotopaxi at the same tournament last year, losing in two hard fought sets. This year, they pushed the Pirates to three sets before falling. After dropping the first set 25-17, the Titans came back to win the second set 25-20 and force a third and final set.

“The first set was really back and forth and each team had a couple of runs in the second set,” says Covey. “When we started getting those runs, we started gaining some confidence.”

The Titans ultimately succumbed in the third and final set, losing 15-11 to lose the game.

“They communicated better than we did,” says Covey. “When things got tight, we stopped talking and it was three errors at the end that cost us.”

Crested Butte closed out the tournament against the Creede Miners and cruised to another straight set win 25-9, 25-7.

“Our first servers scored 12 points and that set the tone for the game,” says Covey. “I was glad they picked themselves up after Cotopaxi.”

With plenty still left to work on, Covey still sees a team that is at least two weeks ahead of where they were this time last year. And a team with a new identity.

“Last year we tended to give up five to nine points at the start and we didn’t do that, that’s a big improvement” says Covey. “I thought we had a lot bigger rallies, more aggressive offense and we’ve got some pretty strong servers. Overall it was a good first weekend.”

Crested Butte opens league play against the Sargent Farmers this week, and then hits the road for another tournament Saturday, August 26.

“Sargent always gives you a tough game, they never quit on balls,” says Covey. “I think we can play with them, but it will depend on if we communicate and execute what we’ve been working on. It would be really nice to start off with a league win. I think we can play with everyone in our league.” 

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