A strong focus in defense was apparent in Cedaredge's Oct. 2 win over Paonia.
The match was highlighted by long rallies and big hits. When it was over, Cedaredge had won in three sets and by an 11-point margin.
Eagles head coach Ce'rra Carsten wasn't disappointed in her team's performance against the Bruins. At 13-1, Cedaredge ended the week in fifth place in Class 3A RPI rankings. "They played super well," said Carsten. "I'm okay with a loss like that, any day... I tell the girls I'd rather have them play great volleyball and lose than play poorly and win."
"You can tell that a Paonia-Cedaredge volleyball game is going to be a fun one," said Bruins head coach Heather Dunbar.
The Bruins experienced one lag in their momentum in game 3 when they allowed Paonia to rally back from a seven-point, 23-16 deficit before finishing with a 25-22 win.
Against a well-oiled Bruins defense, Paonia had one block, by middle hitter Jessica Deaton, and made four errors and scored one ace in 66 serve attempts. Defense, and specifically first touches, is what the Bruins focus on first at every practice, said Dunbar. "We have the showy attacks and all kinds of stuff, but we focus hours on just keeping the ball off the floor."
The Bruins are led by their sole senior, fourth-year varsity player Courtney Freeman. She has seen some adversity and has turned that experience into a leadership role, said Dunbar. In her 12 years of coaching, "I've never seen anything like it. But it takes other kids who are talented and willing to get on board."
On Thursday the Bruins handed the De Beque Dragons (13-2, 1A WSL) their first loss of the season, winning the four-set match, 25-17, 25-19, 23-25, 25-18. On Friday De Beque experienced its second loss to ninth-ranked Vail Mountain.
"De Beque is looking really good this year," said Dunbar. In looking ahead to the game, she wanted Cedaredge to control what happens on its side of the court, "and that's with our serves and our passes and not having any little drops in our momentum," like they did with Paonia at the end of game three. "We're trying to eliminate those," she said.