Bears play well in tournament

Dolores volleyball finishes 4th overall

Larissa Umberger sets up her teammates Saturday, Sept. 7, against Mancos.

Fresh off their season-opening win over Shiprock, the Dolores Bears volleyball team travelled to Cortez to compete in the six-team Cortez Tournament held on Sept. 7. While the Bears did not garner the first-place finish they may have hoped for, the team played well in route to a fourth-place finish.

Opening pool play against the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers, the Bears held their own.

After falling behind 8-4 early in the first set, Dolores battled back, and after an ace by sophomore Courtney Blackmer, tied the set at 23.

With Cortez nipping at their heels, the Bears stayed organized, winning the next two points on Panthers' hitting errors to take the first set, 25-23.

After falling behind 5-0 in the second set, the Bears again battled back, briefly pulling ahead 20-19 before eventually dropping the set, 25-23.

In the decisive third set, the Panthers proved too much for the Bears to handle, and after big hits and big serves by Cortez hitters Beth Brown and Kristin Pierce, the Bears fell by a score of 15-7.

Looking to rebound from their first loss of the season during the second round of pool play against league rival Mancos, the Bears jumped out to an early 12-6 lead behind the solid play of Blackmer and senior Brianna Schwartz.

Although Mancos battled back to tie the score at 15, the Bears refused to give in, pulling ahead 24-20 on a nice serve by junior Taylor Elder and eventually winning the set 25-23 on a nice offensive tip by Elder.

Continuing to play well in the second set, the Bears jumped ahead of the Bluejays, 12-6 on a beautifully placed serve by junior Elana Bernholtz.

After Mancos again closed the gap to 24-23, Blackmer pounded home a vicious spike to secure the set, 25-23, giving the Bears the victory.

"Overall, we did well," said Bernholtz, describing her team's play. "We came together when we needed to. One of the biggest things is, we need to talk more and stay positive."

With their victory over Mancos, the Bears placed second in their pool, setting up a match with the Delta High School Panthers for third place.

Throughout a competitive first set, the Bears held tough, and after a nice spike to the left corner by Bernholtz, pulled ahead 18-15. Delta's attack proved too much to handle, however, and after a series of well-played points, the Panthers won the set 25-22.

After again pulling ahead in the second set, 16-11, the Bears were unable to secure a victory, eventually falling, 25-23.

Although clearly disappointed by the loss, the Bears couldn't help but gain confidence from the fact that they played well and remained competitive against much larger schools.

"This gives us a lot of confidence, considering that (Delta and Montezuma-Cortez) are 4A schools, and we are a 2A school," said Brianna Wallace. "It was just kind of a great feeling to know that we hung with them, and the scores were really close."

Overall, the Bears concluded the tournament in fourth place behind Delta, Montezuma-Cortez and tournament winner, Dove Creek. Mancos finished fifth, while Kirtland's junior varsity finished sixth.

Ali Umberger tips the ball over a couple of Mancos defenders. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Ali Umberger tips the ball over a couple of Mancos defenders.