Kremmling " West Grand spikers grit out berth to regional tournament |

Kremmling " West Grand spikers grit out berth to regional tournament

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

Kremmling, Colorado ” The task in front of the West Grand High School volleyball team this past weekend at the district tournament in Paonia, Colorado, was daunting.

The Mustangs were seeded fourth and knew that only three teams would advance to the regional tournament this upcoming weekend. West Grand also found itself in a pool with Paonia and Meeker. The Cowboys of Meeker had handed West Grand one of its defeats this past season and Paonia would be looking for revenge on its home floor.

As the district tournament played out, West Grand would also play Rangely to clinch a berth in the regional tournament. The Panthers were another of the teams which had defeated West Grand in league play.

After the last ball rolled to a stop, the Lady Mustangs had played five matches in two days and won four of those contests. In addition to Plateau Valley, they defeated Meeker, Paonia and Rangely on the way to winning a regional berth for the first time in four years.

It was only in the championship match against Meeker that West Grand was finally stopped as the two teams battled for the top seed in the regional tournament.

The top seed helps determine game times, Coach Laura Gore said, but with the pool play format of the regional tournament, the seed doesn’t hold a lot of significance. Along with Meeker, West Grand and Rangely will advance to the regional tournament and play in a pool with a team from the southwest portion of the state.

Because the northwest district has so many more teams than the southwest district, every other year the northwest district is granted three berths in the regional tournament.

This Saturday in Palisade, the four regional teams will play each other to determine which two will advance to the state tournament the following week. At the district tournament, this past Friday, the Mustangs dropped their first game to Paonia, 25-14. With the hometown crowd heavily favoring Paonia, West Grand responded with its best volleyball of the season, Gore said.

“It was so gratifying to see the girls play so well,” Gore said. “They played like they didn’t want their season to end.”

Danette Billington had 15 kills and Brook Cecil added another nine kills as the Mustangs reeled off three consecutive game victories, 25-15, 25-13, 25-16, to win the match and effectively put Paonia in a hole from which it wouldn’t recover.

Rebecca Roller was perfect on her 11 serves and Renea Ellison nailed 19 of her 21 serves. “We did a great job of cutting down on unforced errors,” Gore said.

Ellison led the team in assists with 16 and Rose Hargadine led the team in blocks and had, Coach Gore said, an outstanding passing game. In the second match which West Grand played on Friday night, the Mustangs easily defeated Plateau Valley, 25-21, 25-22, 25-12.

Jessica Raecke came off of the bench for situational serving and was perfect on all 19 of her serve attempts. Billington led the team in hitting again with nine kills. Ellison had nine assists while Billington led the team in blocks with nine and passed well

throughout the contest.

The two victories pretty much assured the Mustangs that they would advance to the championship round. That, however, was not enough to satisfy West Grand. In a tough match, the Mustangs outlasted the Cowboys, 21-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-19.

It was a great hitting match, Gore said, with Ellison leading a balanced attack with 11 kills and Cecil and Billington adding 10 kills apiece in the winning effort. Billington also had another strong passing game, Coach Gore added.

Alyse Billington led the team in assists with 18 and was also perfect on her 23 serve attempts.

By winning its pool, the Mustangs were pitted against Rangely, which finished second in its pool. In the surprise of the tournament, Vail Christian, the seventh-seeded team, won its portion of the pool.

Rangely and Hayden had a one-game match to determine who would play in the championship round and the Panthers defeated the Tigers of Hayden.

The Mustangs knew they could clinch a berth in the regional tournament if they defeated Rangely, a team they had lost to in four games just over a week ago.

In a nail-biter, the teams battled into overtime with West Grand holding on for a 30-28 victory. The Mustangs lost the second game, 20-25, but responded by winning the final two games by identical 25-22 scores.

Danette Billington led the team in kills with nine while Hargadine added seven kills in the important match. Ellison led the team in assists with 15 while Hargadine again led the team in passing. Roller was perfect on her eight serves and Alyse Billington hit 26 of her 27 serves.

The final match against Meeker was settled when the Cowboys won the top seed in the district tournament by winning the match, 25-20, 25-20, 19-25, 25-19. “We finally ran out of gas in the second Meeker match,” Gore said.

Coming off of the bench, freshman Chyenne Sims served 13 times and was perfect on all 13 attempts. Raecke was also perfect on her seven serves. Ellison led the team in kills with eight and Brook Cecil added seven kills. Alyse Billington led the team in assists with 15 and Danette Billington and Cecil led the team in passing.

“It was a great weekend,” Gore said. “We have been a good road team all year and we showed that again. It is also very gratifying to play your best at the end of the season. We are really looking forward to going to regionals and playing our best.”

The regional tournament will be held on Saturday, Nov. 1.

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