Volleyball: Mustang netters fall one match short of goal
Sky-Hi Daily News
The district tournament for the West Grand Mustangs started on a high note, with victories over Grand Valley and Paonia on Friday night.
In the final round of pool play on Saturday, however, the Lady Mustangs lost a hard-fought battle to Vail Mountain and went into the finals of the tournament as the second-seed in their bracket. That set up a match with league champion Rangely in a must-win situation for West Grand.
The Panthers from Rangely, playing on their home court in the district tournament, proved to be too powerful, defeating the team from West Grand, 25-16, 25-18, 25-12.
Meeker defeated Vail Mountain in the other side of the finals and then lost to Rangely in the final match of the district tournament. Rangely and Meeker will be the Western Slope League’s representatives in the regional tournament next weekend.
The key match of the weekend was the Saturday morning contest with Vail Mountain in which the two teams took turns winning points and games. Vail Mountain won the first game, 25-20, and West Grand rallied to win the second, 25-23. Vail won the third, 25-18, and the Mustangs rallied again to win the fourth, 25-21.
In the fifth and deciding game, the teams battled back and forth and, in a game that can be decided at 15 points, the teams went deep into overtime before Vail Mountain prevailed, 21-19.
It was a long and emotionally draining game and likely was a contributing factor to the fact that both teams lost in their first match of the final round.
Coach Laura Gore said West Grand’s pool play was marked by strong, competitive matches, while the other side of the pool appeared to feature matches that were less draining, both physically and emotionally.
However, Gore was quick to point out the Mustangs played the best they have all year. They had solid play, she said, and left everything on the court. It was disappointing to both coaches and players that they came up just short of the goal they had established for themselves.
On Friday night, the Mustangs drove to Rangely and started the tournament by defeated Grand Valley, 28-26, 25-22, 25-18. It was sweet revenge for a five-game loss the girls had against the Cardinals earlier in the season.
Also on Friday, West Grand defeated Paonia, 23-25, 25-14, 26-24, 25-21, against a team they had defeated the previous week in Kremmling. It is sometimes difficult to beat another team on back-to-back weekends, but the Lady Mustangs were up to the task.
Coach Gore, while feeling the disappointment of seeing the season come to an end, was also appreciative of the opportunity to work with an outstanding group of girls. All year, she sang the praises of the squad and voiced her admiration of their work ethic and willingness to work together as a team.
Elliott and Davidson provided good solid senior leadership all year and especially in the tournament, Gore said. Elliott missed only four serves the entire season and scored a lot of points for West Grand in the tournament. Her net play at the district tournament was probably the strongest it has been all season.
Davidson had solid serving and notched a couple of aces at critical times. As the setter for the team, she had the responsibility of directing the offensive attack, something she did extremely well, Gore noted.
Lassaline played quite a bit in the tournament and provided solid passing and serving. Stubbs didn’t play as much as she has in earlier contests this season, but both contributed wherever and whenever they were asked. Both were supportive and accepted their roles as team players.
Junior starters Danette Billington, Rose Hargadine and Renea Ellison continued to play extremely well, as they have all season. Billington was the team’s leading hitter and did a tremendous job in the tournament, passing and digging. Hargadine came on strong with her hitting and provided consistent serving. Ellison’s hitting was so consistent and strong, Gore said, that teams were adjusting their lineups to stop her.
Sophomore starter Brook Cecil provided solid hitting all season, and Gore said she is excited about the potential of Cecil and is looking forward to her growth as a player.
The final two players who suited up for the tournament were Becca Roller and Alyse Billington. Roller provided excitement from the bench, and the coach said she was impressed with the team-building activities which Alyse Billington brought to practice all week long.
The team finished with an overall record of 13-8 and a league record of 6-2.
Gore also wanted to thank her coaching staff of Susan Billington, Cheryl Brown and Kelly Farrell for their support and dedication to the players throughout the season.
The seniors who played their last high school volleyball game for West Grand on Saturday were Jessica Elliott, Jordan Davidson, Chelsea Lassaline and Stephanie Stubbs.
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