Last weekend the Ignacio Volleycats were party-crashers.
This weekend, they’ll host the party and hope to avoid a fate similar to Telluride this past Saturday. After victories over Nucla and nonleague Crested Butte Community School, the Lady Miners couldn’t go 3-for-3 during their school’s homecoming week as IHS left town having dealt THS an authoritative 25-22, 25-15, 25-12 defeat.
“Telluride had really good hitters and I think our girls were wide-eyed of how to adjust and get the ball up,” IHS head coach Jennifer Seibel admitted. “And I think once we got that first (game) our momentum and energy took us through the next two.”
Having improved to 9-4 overall, 2-1 against the full 2A/1A San Juan Basin League and 2-1 against its 2A side, the ’Cats will next host Ridgway for a doubleheader on Saturday to close out their own homecoming week festivities. Telluride fell to 6-7 overall, 3-2 in the SJBL and 2-1 in the 2A side.
Fortunate to not have squandered an 18-13 lead in Game one against Telluride before regaining a 21-20 lead and hanging on to win 25-22 – via a set dump by freshman Kelly Sirios – Ignacio opened THS’ collective eyes immediately in Game 2, swinging the match decidedly in their favor.
Senior Kacey Brown opened on serve and IHS scored first with Solymar Cosio blocking sophomore middle Delia Noel. Brown would fire an ace in front of LillyAnn Mahoney, then immediately place another behind THS’ sophomore setter for a 5-0 lead. Cosio then stuffed down a Mahoney tip at the net, and Brown followed with an unreturnable serve pressing THS head coach Lorrie Mahoney into using a timeout.
“Yeah, you can’t give up runs like that; that just crushes our momentum,” she said. “But it helps me know what we need to work on in practice.”
Play would resume with Brown swatting two more aces, putting IHS up 9-0 before THS senior Isla Silva snapped a kill down the near line. Telluride then lost control of an attempted free ball. Ignacio capitalized with a Cosio kill against Noel and a Cosio kill glancing off diving senior libero Bryn Geiger. Ahead 12-2, the Volleycats’ lead dipped back into single digits only once – via an IHS net violation closing the gap to 24-15, before Cosio then put IHS up 2-0 in the contest with a kill too strong for crouching junior Rylan Righetti to receive in the back row.
“The Crested Butte game, we were just there mentally and physically, and our stands were crowded which was awesome,” Noel said about the game the night before. “Everyone was … just completely there, and that was one of our best games we’ve played. I think we all dealt with it pretty well, but it came out on the court that we were just, like, exhausted.”
A Mahoney ace put Telluride up 2-1 early in Game 3, and THS would soon regain the upper hand at 5-4 after an ace by senior Thea Rommel and a Noel kill. After increasing the lead to 6-4 and then 7-5, the Lady Miners’ fortune faded as Ignacio, with Brown taking over setting duties after Sirios appeared to injure a hand/finger in Game 2, put together bursts of four, six and five points – earning the ’Cats an insurmountable 20-9 lead.
“Kacey, she played with so much confidence and just pulled her team up there with her,” said Seibel. “And as far as setting, I don’t worry much because they all can set – even Soly’s got hands! – so it was no doubt when Kacey was like, ‘I’m it.’”
Reaching match point first at 24-11 after a failed Telluride pass, Ignacio appeared to end proceedings inside the MinerDome with Cosio emphatically stuffing down an overpass resulting from junior teammate Marissa Olguin’s firm and flat serve. Cosio, however, was whistled for reaching too far over the net, giving THS one final chance to rally. Stepping back behind the line with ball in hand, Rommel’s serve was well-placed and strong … but sailed just long, finalizing IHS’ triumph.
“I think they’re a really strong team; I think they just kind of broke down a little,” Seibel said. “But they’ve got amazing hitters; our girls were like, ‘dang we’re going to have to work for this!’ It was one hundred percent attitude, effort, energy … but our ‘heart’ led us and took it.”
“With Dolores, I think it was all energetic too,” she noted. “Darlyn (Mendoza-Lechuga), she stepped up at right-side … did an amazing job and really just bumped our team up. And when we have it like that, we can’t stop … and we’re not going to be stopped.”
“I’m very proud because we were thrown a lot of roadblocks … and we showed how we can persevere through that,” declared Cosio. “And we showed off that we have two setters; I think that shows how deep and diverse we are, and how connected we are.”
“Ignacio’s a good team, they really are,” Lorrie Mahoney said, “but I don’t think we played our best; I’m excited to see them again at the end of the season, and hopefully we’ll bring our A-game.”