Kremmling " West Grand netters finish season 15-4, are optimistic about playoffs |

Kremmling " West Grand netters finish season 15-4, are optimistic about playoffs

Larry Banman
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

The West Grand High School volleyball team of Kremmling, Colorado, heads into postseason play coming off of a regular season in which the girls posted an overall record of 15-4 and a 5-3 record in Western Slope League play.

This past weekend the Mustangs lost to Rangely, 25-27, 25-18, 25-22, 25-21 but defeated Vail Mountain, 25-10, 20-25, 25-10, 25-21, to finish in a tie for third place with Hayden.

Coach Laura Gore said the loss to Hayden in a head-to-head match earlier this year means the Mustangs will enter the district tournament as the fourth seed. Gore said it is unofficial, but she believes the Mustangs will be in a pool with Meeker, Paonia and the winner of a pigtail match to be played this week between Soroco and Plateau Valley.

The other pool of teams includes Rangely, Vail Mountain, Vail Christian and Hayden. The top two teams from each pool will then be crossbracketed to determine the three top teams.

For this year’s regional tournament, three teams from the district tournament at Paonia will be pitted against one team from the district tournament that represents schools from southwest Colorado. Two teams from the regional tournament will advance to the state tournament.

On Friday night, Oct. 17, in the Homecoming game against Rangely, the Mustangs won the first game of the match after building a five-point lead and then holding on to win the 27-25, thriller.

Rangely had rallied to grab a 24-23 lead when the Panthers made an error after Renea Ellison hit a strong serve. Alyse Billington then tipped a ball into an empty spot and the Mustangs earned a 25-24 lead. A Rangely kill attempt crawled over the net and then the Mustangs held on as two Rangely miscues ended the game in West Grand’s favor.

In the second game, the teams battled tooth and nail for most of the contest, which was last tied by Brook Cecil on a kill that knotted the score at 14. The Panthers then slowly pulled away, taking advantage of unforced errors by the Mustangs.

For the game, coach Gore said, the team missed 15 serves and had another 22 unforced hitting errors. Overcoming that many miscues proved to be too difficult for West Grand.

The third game was a mirror image of the second. This time, Cecil tied the score at 15. Her successful kill was an acrobatic hit that she executed while falling backwards. The Panthers, however, recovered and gradually pulled away for the 25-22 victory.

Rangely led most of the fourth game and the Panthers pulled away for the important league victory. They were led most of the night by the hitting of sophomores Victoria Phelan and Marie Morton.

After the game, Gore said the team would have to reduce its unforced errors if it hopes to advance this weekend in the district tournament. That will be focus of this week’s practice, she added.

Danette Billington had her best hitting game of the year against Rangely, with 17 kills. She also had two solo blocks and assisted on six other blocks. Alyse Billington led the team in assists with six while Rebecca Roller was successful on all 12 of her serves.

Rose Hargadine did an outstanding job of passing, Gore said, registering only one error throughout the match.

Against Vail Mountain, West Grand cut down on its errors considerably, Gore said, and the Mustangs were able to win the match.

Against, Vail Mountain, Alyse Billington nailed all of her serves and Rose Hargadine hit all but one of 22 serve attempts.

Gore noted that Alyse and Danette Billington both did a good job of passing.

Hargadine led the team in blocks with five block assists and Ellison had 24 assists to lead the team in that category. Danette Billington led the team in kills with 15 and Cecil was right behind in that category with 14.

Gore said she is confident the Mustangs will play well in the district tournament. In its three league losses this year, West Grand was never outmatched and led for significant periods in each match. There just are no dominant teams in the district this season, Gore said.

By virtue of finishing in first place, the Meeker Cowboys are protected in the district tournament and will go to the regional tournament regardless of what happens this weekend.

West Grand has also played well on the road all year long. In fact, the Mustangs have lost only one match away from their home court.

“This group of girls is extremely focused on the road,” Gore said, “and they play very well.”

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