TELLURIDE – The Telluride High School volleyball team played a teeter-totter match against the Nucla Mustangs Tuesday, digging deep for some early wins but ultimately losing the five game match, 2-3.
Finding the necessary fire has not been a problem for Telluride’s varsity players; it’s keeping that fire lit that’s been the challenge this season.
“As individuals, the varsity players have a lot of talent, and as a team, they have the potential to win the San Juan Basin League and advance to Regionals,” said assistant coach Rhea dePagter. “[The game on Tuesday night] did not portray the potential this team has. We broke down mentally and struggled with finishing.”
Still keyed up following their spirited choreographed warm-up, Telluride dominated play in the first game. Freshman Emy Ludwig drove home smoking serves early, and thanks in part to point-scoring kills delivered by seniors Emma Gross, Meghan Cain and Sarah Carlson, Telluride maintained the lead throughout the match and easily posted the first win, 25-21.
The team that returned to the court in game two was not the same fiery squad that easily toppled the Mustangs in game one. Nucla junior Amanda Church fed the Miners a string of hard-to-handle serves, catapulting her team to an early 5-0 lead. Flustered by the quick turning of the tides, Telluride’s normally composed players couldn’t put all the pieces together to form a solid counterattack. Carlson’s precise serves helped slow the Mustang onslaught, but with Nucla’s Andrea Reams a dangerous offensive power and Jordan Sinks serving up an ace, the Miners once again began fraying at the seams on their side of the court. Telluride never managed to close the gap, and fell to the Mustangs 25-13.
Telluride senior Evan Tueller propped her team back up in game three, with measured serves that helped Telluride capture an early advantage. The unbridled energy Telluride brought to game one returned in game three, with Nickey Goldsworthy and Brittany Altman chasing down points and freshman Emily Langley shutting down many a Mustang attempt.
Nucla’s Reams dug deep to help close the gap, and after rigorous rounds of tight play the Mustangs hovered just four points behind the Miners. But Telluride rode out the storm, finishing strong with a 25-20 victory.
Telluride needed to stomp out one more game to take the match, but as it was the Miners wouldn’t claim another win. Nucla swarmed the court in the fourth game, winning 25-16, and returned in the fifth tie-breaking match to win 15-10.
“Volleyball is such a game of momentum,” dePagter said. “The mental toughness of each player is vital to the success of the team… we need to become mentally tough players, if we want to advance into post-season play.”
On a high note, the junior varsity Miners did post a victory Tuesday night, winning in a best of three match against the JV Mustangs. The JV team is currently undefeated with a 5-0 record. The strong leadership of the JV team's juniors Mia McLaughlin, Allisyn Stanfield and Kenya Strong are a big part of the squad’s winning combination, said dePagter. “The girls are really starting to play well together as a team,” she said. “As the season progresses, we will continue to improve on the girls' individual skills and our level of play as a team.”
The varsity team plays Dove Creek at home on Friday, Sept. 19 at 5 p.m. Both JV and varsity will play Dolores at home on Saturday, Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.