Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
One down; one to go.
The Durango High School volleyball team, ranked No. 8 in the state, won its first homecoming match 3-0 over Grand Junction Central on Friday night.
The second homecoming match will take place today – 11:30 a.m. on homecoming Saturday.
“We’ll have to keep our offense running fast and keep our passes quick,” senior setter Natalie Bulen said of the game plan for the Demons against Montrose today in another key Southwestern League contest.
Bulen, the returning all-SWL setter who assisted the Demons into the Class 4A Volleyball State Championships last year, dished the volleyball to the tune of 32 assists in Durango’s emphatic 25-17, 25-8, 25-10 victory over Central.
“Our team is always really focused,” said Bulen, daughter of David and Janine Bulen. “The distractions of homecoming are there every year, but we know how to focus.”
She focused on five different hitters in the opening set victory that included five kills from senior Hannah Quick and four kills from senior McKenna Franzen on, appropriately enough, senior night.
“I felt like our passes were so on ... every hitter was ready to hit. That makes my job easier,” said Bulen, who linked with Jessie Brammer and Emily McCue for second-set kills against the youthful Warriors.
In the third set, Bulen teamed with Bella Bernazzani, Berkeley Davis and senior Zoe Cutler for even more kills.
“And our serves have gotten a lot better. That really helped,” Bulen said after the Demons (9-4, 4-0 SWL) converted 10 aces opposite only five service errors against Central.
The other key ingredient to Friday night’s homecoming victory, she said, was blocking.
“When we did get our block up, it really frustrated the other team,” Bulen said after the Demons’ imposing blocking wall forced a ton of Central tips and soft returns.
“The one timeout (head coach) Robin (Oliger) called in the first game was to talk about blocking,” assistant coach Colleen Keresey said. “We talked about waiting because they set a higher outside ball.
“Once we started waiting and were disciplined on our blocks, we started getting not only kill blocks but good touches for our defense,” Keresey said.
“On our blocking coverage, we were right there to put the ball in play,” she said.
Central, with only two seniors and six sophomores on the roster, fell to 6-9 and 1-3 in the SWL.
The Demons are ranked No. 8 this week in the statewide Class 4A polls by both The Denver Post and coloradopreps.com.
“We’re always nervous about homecoming week,” Keresey said.
“But playing on Tuesday (at Montezuma-Cortez), I think, helped our focus. To go down there and go five games and ... tough that match out helped. We came in here a little more focused,” she said.