The Demons were stuck in low gear.
More importantly, the Demons were stalled in a listless 0-2 deficit to visiting Montrose in Saturday morning’s Southwestern League volleyball match.
The Durango High School volleyball team, ranked No. 8 in the state, faced a rarity – a possible SWL loss on its home court, on homecoming weekend no less.
Enter McKenna and the Mechanics.
Led by the attacking frenzy of McKenna Franzen, a mechanical adjustment on defense and a fuel injection from the lively DHS student crowd, the Demons shifted into high gear to come back for their most dramatic 3-2 win of the season – 22-25, 15-25, 25-17, 25-21, 15-11.
“I think it was a matter of getting aggressive. We were kind of conservative in the first two (games),” Franzen said of the early sets dominated by the Indians.
“We really needed to get aggressive. That’s when we started firing up our swings and our blocks ... we just had to make things faster,” said the DHS senior, who responded to total a season-high 26 kills in Saturday’s five-set thriller.
“We realize when we are playing a slower game ... that is not how we play,” she said, recalling a noticeable change of pace when the Demons opened the third set.
“In that third set, there was like this whole new atmosphere ... this whole new energy,” said Franzen, daughter of Gary and Regina Franzen.
With the DHS student section stomping on the bleachers and imploring the Demons to pick up the pace, they responded.
Two quick kills by Franzen set up teammate Kennedy Clark at the service line.
The jump-serving senior ripped four consecutive ace serves as part of an early 7-0 DHS run in the critical third set.
“That definitely helped,” Clark said.
“And we just needed to talk more ... be more scrappy on defense,” said the acrobatic DHS libero, who led the gymnasium in digs with a season-high 29.
“We made a little defensive change, too,” assistant coach Colleen Keresey said of the Demons’ mechanical adjustment entering the third set.
With Montrose targeting soft tips to the middle of the Durango defense, the Demons changed their approach, she said.
“We moved, and we read it. In the middle back ... Gaby (Razma) had some key digs there for us,” Keresey said.
Razma added 15 digs against the Montrose attack, led by Emily Sanburg, Brooke Gaber and Mikayla McKie.
“It helped with Kennedy leading with those four aces,” Keresey said of the momentum change in set No. 3.
Six kills from Jessie Brammer in the set also helped, as did a solo block by Berkeley Davis and two more kills from Bella Bernazzani.
Brammer’s set-finishing kill forced set No. 4 when DHS senior setter Natalie Bulen brought the Durango crowd to its feet with a solo bock to break an early tie with Montrose.
Bulen also collected seven timely kills to go with 51 assists – including eight assists to Franzen in the Demons’ 25-21 victory in the fourth set.
A series of precise Bulen sets took the drama out of the fifth set early when the Demons broke to an 8-2 lead.
Bernazzani and Franzen converted kills.
Hannah Quick added a loud spike off a back set from Bulen as the Demons swept to the 15-11 victory.
“I think it’s extremely important (to come back from an 0-2 deficit),” said Franzen, a state track qualifier in the discus.
“It allows us to humble ourselves a little bit ... we can learn how to come back from something like this.”
The Demons (10-4) are 5-0 in the SWL and now have won 17 league matches in a row.
“It was a test of character, for sure,” Keresey said after the DHS victory. “We haven’t had to do that yet.”