M-CHS volleyball team drops 2 over weekend
Panthers play well in first sets before falling in four-set contests
If volleyball matches ended after one set, the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers volleyball team would have finished homecoming weekend with two wins. Rules require that a match last at least three sets however, and as a result, the Panthers finished the weekend with two consecutive losses.
TOUGH LOSS TO GRAND JUNCTION
Kicking off homecoming weekend on Friday, Sept. 27, at home against the Grand Junction High School Tigers, the Panthers started strong before falling in four sets, 25-14, 13-25, 20-25, 22-25.
Playing some of their best volleyball of the season in the match’s early stages, the Panthers stormed out of gate, winning the first point of the first set after a hard spike from Beth Brown caromed off Tigers blockers and dropped into the open court.
The Panthers solid play continued throughout the set and following a run highlighted by an ace by Brown, a kill by Naomi Pennecoose, and a pretty offensive tip by Laurel Chappell, the Panthers led 21-10.
Although the Tigers would attempt to battle back, the Panthers maintained their lead, winning the first set 25-14 on an ace by Pennecoose.
“I just think that our kids were ready to play,” said Panthers’ head coach Barbara Chappell, discussing her team’s strong play during the first set. “It has been a while since we’ve been at home and (the players) wanted to show what they are made of.”
“We played amazing defense in the first set,” said Kristin Pierce. “Our serving was amazing, and we just played smart with the ball.”
Hoping to continue their strong play in the second set, the Panthers were stymied by Tigers’ senior Courtney Gopinath, a powerful outside hitter who recorded many of her match-high ten aces during the Tigers’ 25-13 second set victory.
“That second set, (Gopinath’s) serve got into (our players’) heads and they just sort of let down,” said Chappell. “We haven’t seen serves like that all season. “(Our team) quit being aggressive, and they started playing really careful. That’s not our game.”
Looking to turn things around in the third set, the Panthers jumped out to an early 5-2 lead following a beautiful cross-court spike by Pierce, but again, Gopinath’s serves sapped the Panthers energy and eventually the Tigers would claim the set by a score of 25-20.
“Our energy went down because we weren’t talking and communicating,” said Pennecoose, describing her team’s play during the third set. “We have to do a better job of staying positive the whole time.”
With their backs against the wall in the fourth set, the Panthers upped their energy level and after trailing early, pulled to within one point at 13-14 following a nice spike by Pennecoose down the line.
As the crowd roared its approval, the Panthers fought on, but for the third consecutive set, Gopinath’s play proved to be too much to overcome. After the Panthers narrowed the gap to 22-23, Gopinath came through with a beautiful offensive top, followed by a spike down the middle, to give the Tigers a 25-22 victory.
Leading the way for the Panthers against Grand Junction, Pennecoose recorded 22 kills, Brown had two aces, Pierce had 19 digs and Chappell had 33 assists.
FRUSTRATING LOSS TO MONTROSE
Looking to rebound at home against the Montrose Indians on Saturday, Sept. 28, the Panthers again captured the first set before eventually losing 25-19, 18-25, 23-25, 22-25.
Leading the way for the Panthers against the Indians, Pennecoose had 27 kills and 17 digs. Pierce led the team in aces with two, and Chappell led the team in assists with 51.
Following the weekend’s two tough losses, the Panthers will look to rebound in Durango against the rival Demons on Thursday, Oct. 3.