Panthers fall to Durango in four sets
After 25-21 first set victory, Panthers fall apart
More often than not, the Montezuma-Cortez High School volleyball team wins first sets. And more often than not, the team subsequently loses matches.
Continuing what has been a season long trend, playing on the road against Durango on Tuesday, Oct. 22, the Panthers won the first set 25-21, before dropping the next three, 20-25, 16-25, 24-26.
Throughout the first set, the Panthers looked dominant, just as they have in so many opening sets this season. After taking the 1-0 lead following a hard spike down the middle by junior Abby Chupp, the Panthers maintained momentum, eventually stretching their lead to 10-7 following a kill by junior Naomi Pennecoose.
“They were ready to play,” said Panthers head coach Barbara Chappell, describing her team’s performance during the opening set. “It’s kind of our M.O. We had lots of energy, we were calm and we were being consistent.”
As the first set moved along, the Panthers became increasingly dominant as numerous players stepped up, including senior Mikkel Waltman, junior Beth Brown and sophomore Laurel Chappell.
“It just helps,” said Pennecoose of her team’s diversified attack. “It doesn’t put so much pressure on just one person. It’s great when our whole team gets involved.”
After eventually winning the first set 25-20, the Panthers began the second set with confidence, only to have things fall apart near the set’s end.
After hanging tough and taking a 20-19 lead, the Panthers surrendered six straight points, capped off by a spike from Durango junior Elise Christiansen, to drop the set 20-25.
Tough times continued for the Panthers throughout the third set as the team fell behind 4-8 early, before completely falling apart and eventually falling 16-25 following a serve out over the back line by Pennecoose.
“I actually don’t know what happened,” said Chupp of the set. “It always happens. We kind of just fall apart.”
“I think it’s a mental thing,” added Barbara Chappell. “It’s a matter of staying in the moment and believing that you can take the game. We’ve really struggled with that, and we get tight.”
Looking to fight back in the final set, the Panthers came out swinging and hung tough, eventually pulling to within one point at 23-24 following a pretty ace by sophomore Laurel Chappell.
Pennecoose would then tie the match, 24-24, with a pretty spike, but an ace by Durango sophomore Addy Swift and a block by Christiansen doomed the Panthers, who lost 24-26.
Statistical leaders for the Panthers included Pennecoose (19 kills), Brown (16 digs) and Laurel Chappell (31 assists).
With the loss, the Panthers fell to 8-12 on the season. Durango improved to 10-9 with the vicotory.
“We just can’t give up,” said Pennecoose, following the match. “We just have to keep going.”