“You gotta take charge, stay positive and compete”
By Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Titans volleyball team returned to action following the October Break and battled their way to a five-set win over the Custer County Bobcats on Tuesday, October 17.
“They persevered,” says coach Marla Covey.
It was quite the accomplishment given the fact that the team had been away from workouts for 13 days and played their last match, which they won, on September 30.
When they returned to the gym for their first practice on Monday to get ready for the Custer County match, Covey saw what she expected out of the players.
“They came in a bit rusty, which I anticipated,” says Covey.
But the Titans made up for that rust in the opening set of their match against Custer County with determination. Crested Butte built an early lead, but Custer County strung together a run to pull ahead 19-18 before the Titans regrouped to win 25-22.
“We checked out a little bit but dug in and got the win,” says Covey. “They showed some grit.”
The second set was more back and forth as Crested Butte started off with a 4-2 lead but fell behind 9-5 forcing the coaches to call a timeout. Crested Butte came out of the timeout to score five of the next six points, but the Bobcats responded to pull back out in front rebuilding their five-point lead. A surgical strike by Mia O’Neil, a timely tip from Annie Collins and a block by Hailey Huresky helped the Titans climb back to within one before Custer County put in one last push to win the second set 25-21.
The third set played out much like the second. Another three great tips from Collins and two kills by Mandala Bleiberg-Covey paired with consistent serving had Crested Butte immersed in a battle with the Bobcats and the two teams were tied 23-23 when Custer County called a timeout.
Crested Butte kept their energy up though and came out of the break to win the next point and a play at the net by Huresky sealed the 25-23 win for Crested Butte.
“We didn’t give up a big run like we did in the first set and that was the difference,” says Covey.
Then, the wheels came off the Titan train in the fourth set. While Elise Hanna did open the set with a great block, that was about the only thing that went right for Crested Butte as Custer County built a 16-4 lead. Crested Butte did recover enough to go down swinging outscoring Custer County 9-8 down the stretch, but the damage was done as they fell 25-12.
“At that point you just try to get some momentum back so they’re ready to play a fifth set and it worked,” says Covey.
The fifth set is a fast and furious 15-point set and Covey laid out the strategy for her team like she had so many times before when they were going into a fifth set.
“I just told them get to five first, get to 10 first, get to 15 first,” says Covey. “You gotta take charge, stay positive and compete.”
The team did just that going up 5-4 and then 10-9 and when a big dig from Matelise Halverson set up Bleiberg-Covey for a point, the Titans were on top 12-10 forcing Custer County to call a timeout.
Collins led the charge out of the break with a tip and a block to keep the Titans in front and then finished it off with another block for the 15-13 win to take the match.
“Annie [Collins] played her best match of the season, she was just on top of everything,” says Covey. “It was a good win for us.”
While the last two matches were 17 days apart, it still marked the second win in a row for the Titans and they hope to keep the momentum going as they face Mountain Valley and Ridgway on the road over the next week.
“We’re looking to win a few more before the end of the season,” says Covey.
They finish the regular season at home when they host Gunnison on Thursday, October 26. Gunnison is currently 14-2 and ranked ninth in the state in 3A.