Play at home Thursday, August 31 at 5:30 p.m.[ by Than Acuff ]
The Crested Butte Titans volleyball team opened league play against the Sargent Farmers last week, falling in three sets and then hit the road winning two of three matches at a non-league tournament in Norwood, and are now 4-3 on the season.
The 2A Southern Peaks league is notoriously tough and the Titans have seen their fair share of success and struggle over the years. The Farmers are the epitome of the tough league and posed a good challenge for the Titans for a league opening match.
The Titans opened the match against Sargent on Tuesday, August 22 prepared for battle. The two teams traded points in the first set and, following a quick service run by Mia O’Neil, were tied 12-12.
But a four-point run by Sargent built a lead that proved insurmountable for Crested Butte and Sargent outscored the Titans 13-5 down the stretch to take the first set 25-17.
“We played out our typical jitters in that first home league match,” says coach Marla Covey. “We had some players play a little more tight and nervous than they did in a tournament the weekend before.”
It took the Titans some time to recover from the first set loss when they returned to the floor for the second set. Sargent jumped out to a 13-6 lead before Covey called a timeout to regroup. Following the break, the Titans went on a 6-2 run sparked by a block from Anne Collins and kills from O’Neil and Mandala Covey-Bleiberg forcing Sargent to call a timeout to stem the tide.
The Farmers rebuilt their lead following the break, but the Titans battled back to pull within three points before the Farmers scored two of the last three points to win 25-21.
“We came back really strong, but you just can’t dig that big of a hole and be successful,” says Covey. “But they didn’t quit and last year we would have just rolled over. They’re gaining confidence.”
The Titans carried the momentum from their effort in the second game to build a 13-7 lead in the third game of the match. Solid serving from Elise Hanna and additional big hits by O’Neil and Covey-Bleiberg had the Titans up 23-18.
“Mandala and Mia can put the ball down and we haven’t had that in years,” says Covey.
Unfortunately, the Farmers got red hot down the stretch led by their top server and clawed back into the game to win 26-24 and take the match.
“The team that makes the least mistakes wins and we made more mistakes than Sargent,” says Covey. “We did see some positive things and that’s all you can ask for early in the season.”
Crested Butte then headed to Norwood for a tournament on Saturday, August 26. The three-match day showed yet again that the Titans are a different team this year.
They fell in the first match of the day to Caprock Academy, a traditionally and consistently strong program.
“They were the best team we’ve seen all season,” says Covey. “They didn’t overpower us, they just played more consistently than we did.”
Yet, unlike last year when the Titans lost to Caprock in the tournament opener and dropped the next two matches as well, Crested Butte shrugged off the opening loss to win their next two matches.
They won the opening game against Norwood 25-19 and then stepped up their effort in the second game to win 25-8 to take the match. They then took down the Ridgway Demons 25-12, 25-15 to finish the tournament with two wins.
“Ridgway was a good team,” says Covey. “Last year we lost the rest of the matches at this tournament. I’m proud that we battled back as a team to win those next two matches.”
Crested Butte returns to league play when they host Center on Thursday, August 31 at 5:30 p.m. in mighty Mt. Olympus. They then head to Gunnison for a tournament on Saturday, September 2.
“Center is always tough,” says Covey. “Hopefully we can play a little more together and stronger. It would be great to win that league match.”