Gore Rangers bow out in Final Four
DENVER The Gore Rangers picked the wrong time to get into trouble Saturday at the state volleyball tournament.After losing its final pool-play game to McClave, 22-25, 25-15, 25-16, 21-25, 15-11, Vail Mountain had 20 minutes to regroup before the semifinal match. In the semis, against undefeated back-to-back state champion Julesburg, the Gore Rangers fell, 25-20, 25-18, 25-11.The physical part wasnt as bad, and we were hoping to make an emotional recovery, Vail Mountain coach Mike Garvey said of playing back-to-back matches. The girls were in a good state of mind, but the difficult part was Julesburg. They are undefeated for a reason.While the Gore Rangers played good volleyball, they found themselves on the defensive most of the match.Our game all year has been trying to put pressure on other teams, Garvey said. Today, these teams did that to us. We werent able to maintain an attack because of the dose of pressure from the other side.And, as the Gore Rangers learned, at the state tournament, the luck of the draw can be a blessing or a curse.We got lucky, said Julesburg coach Dennis Tjaden. Both of us had to play matches that went to five before the semifinals, but Vail Mountains was right before we met. McClave didnt fare much better in the finals against Julesburg, falling in four games.There are four quality ball clubs here, and Vail Mountain is one of them, Tjaden said.Being one of the top four in the state is always an accomplishment, but it didnt help temper the loss.We went into this really hoping for the trophy, and its hard for us to walk away knowing we could have had it, said Lara Green. All of these teams are teams we can play with. Five-game fightAgainst McClave, the Gore Rangers focused on stuffing the Cardinals two big hitters, 6-foot Kelsey Tague, and 6-foot-4 Mallory Cline.We put up a good block against (Cline), and we adapted really well to their middle hitter when she started tipping, Green said.But the tips didnt always come, and Vail Mountain had trouble dealing with some of the other hitters.We tried to force tips with a triple block, Garvey said. We just didnt get some of the advantages like we were used to in the past.In the fifth game, the Gore Rangers jumped out to an early lead, but then they committed several unforced errors.The match up was in our favor, but we werent able to capitalize when we were in a good position, Garvey said.Aubrie Apple led the way on offense, registering kills from everywhere on the court.She came to play today, Garvey said. This was the best Ive ever seen Aubrie play.Vail Mountain spread the rest of its offense among the starters and bench players.I think against some good pressure the girls did a job of staying in their offense and playing the way we wanted to play, Garvey said.Miranda Farley served the ball well for the Gore Rangers, scattering the McClave defense.The girls did their job in serving placement, but our opponent raised its level of play, Garvey said. Full teamsIn the semifinal match, Vail Mountain and Julesburg battled out many long points. Both teams went to their benches, and in doing so, maintained a high level of play.They were pretty much all talented, unlike McClave, who has only two power hitters, Apple said.Even with perfect passing, the Gore Rangers couldnt seem to penetrate the Julesburg defense at times.The main thing was that we are used to getting kills off attacks, but the ball would come over just as hard. That was difficult at first, and took some time to adapt to that, Green said.And as well as some of the Gore Rangers served, there was full squad on the other side doing the same.We knew they wouldnt make many mistakes, said Lindsay Wright. They served really well,Except on one play in particular in which Julesburgs Jessica Tjaden tripped while trying to serve, and hit the ball all of one foot.As Tjaden fell to the ground, coach Dennis Tjaden jumped off the bench and like and umpire would, called her out.Shes my daughter, so we can have a laugh, Dennis Tjaden said.That was one of the few errors Julesburg had all match.You cant wait for them to make mistakes, said Green. They get to all the passes and serves.And even though they were much smaller than McClave, Julesburg proved harder to block for the Gore Rangers.Their hitters were hard to read based on their approaches, Green said. And they had a lot of good hitters.On the other side of the net, Vail Mountains Cely Brinkmann was elusive in her hits, sending many across the court beyond the reach of the Lions. Second time aroundFor the five Vail Mountain seniors, Wright, Apple, Brinkmann, Green, and Farley, this was their second trip to the state tournament in four years. When they were freshman, however, they didnt enjoy the tournament as much.This time, we were really a team and it felt awesome, Apple said.Occupying almost two sections of the stands were the girls families, and what seemed to be the entire upper school of Vail Mountain.It was great to have that support, Wright said.The teams biggest supporter, Garvey, was pleased with the way his team played this season.To be 27-3 and lose in state is nothing to hang your head about, Garvey said. We thought we were capable of going all the way, but on the other hand, we were proud that we did everything all season to get us into this position. Sports writer Ian Cropp can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 949-0555 ext. 14631.