After losing to Pagosa Springs High School in four sets on April 9, the Dolores High School volleyball team lost little time in getting back on track during a convincing three-set victory over Ridgway at home on April 10.
Among the keys to the Lady Bears 25-13, 25-20, 25-16 victory over the Lady Demons was the team’s ability to mix hard kill shots with soft tips to open areas of the floor and timely well-placed serves.
While nearly every player on its roster came through with at least one big play in the Dolores victory, no players were more important than senior outside hitter Sydney Smith and junior outside hitter Erin Brown, who each scored numerous points throughout the afternoon.
“We played a really hard game (against Pagosa Springs) last night and we had a lot of hard swings in that match,” Brown said. “Our arms were a little tired today (against Ridgway) and we didn’t’ take as many hard swings. That worked for us really well against this team.”
Just how multifaceted the Lady Bears attack would be became evident midway through the opening set when Brown hammered a kill attempt off of Ridgway blockers moments before junior Kira Messier registered a perfectly placed serve down the left side to give her team a 12-7 lead.
A perfect finesse shot over two Ridgway blockers by Brown put Dolores ahead 13-9 and several kills by Smith a few minutes later helped the Lady Bears earn an eight-point victory in the opening game.
After rocketing out to a 7-1 lead to begin the second set, Dolores experienced its only letdown of the match when it allowed Ridgway to build momentum and eventually seize a 19-16 lead.
Several kills by Brown during a 6-2 Lady Bears run put Ridgway on its heels however, before a tip by Smith that glanced off the fingertips of a Ridgway blocker put the second game away.
“I liked that we kept it to three games and we really kept our intensity up,” Smith said. “We were able to come back (in the second set) and we were able to get the crowd into it. That was really fun.”
Sensing that a victory was within reach throughout the opening moments of the third set, Dolores continued to apply pressure thanks to several nice serves and an ace by senior Akira Edwards and a hard kill by sophomore Chandler Smith that cut Ridgway’s lead to 9-8.
A 10-0 run by the Lady Bears later in the set made the score 19-12 and after several more kills by Brown, the match ended with a Ridgway hitting error and high fives between Dolores players and coaches.
“Right now, I’m absolutely in love with this team,” Brown said. “We’re having so much fun together. Everybody comes to practice with the attitude that they want to get better and I just really love that.”
Now 7-4 overall and 7-2 in the San Juan Basin League, the Lady Bears will look ahead to a road matchup against Nucla on April 16, followed by a road matchup against Ignacio on April 20.
“We started off my freshman year at state and we went to state my junior year too,” Smith said. “It would be great to finish off this season at state.”