Eagles volleyball regular season ends on loss, win

By Wayne Crick

The Paonia High School volleyball team lost one and won two last week as the Eagles prepared for this weekend's district tournament in Grand Valley.

The Eagles went on the road last Wednesday for a late season nonleague matchup against Class 5A Fruita Monument.

Paonia coach Krista Carsten said before the match that she wanted her team to be pushed in the final week, and the Wildcats complied with a 3-0 win and handed the Eagles their second loss of the 2016 volleyball season.

The Wildcats (14-5) were the second 5A team to defeat Paonia this year as the 2A Eagles (15-2) also lost on the road to Grand Junction.

Fruita showed a big block, consistent serving and a couple of heavy hitters as the Wildcats were not challenged by the visiting Eagles.

Plagued by serving and passing errors, Paonia gave up a 10-0 run and quickly lost the first set 25-11.

The Eagles put together a better offense in the second set but still fell 25-19.

Paonia played its best volleyball in set three but the deeper and crisper Wildcats were not going to lose at home. Fruita secured the match with a 25-20 win.

McKenna Hartigan led the Eagles with five kills and three blocks in the match.

McKenna Palmer had five kills as well and Emily Pieper recorded 11 assists in the loss.

Paonia responded to the loss with a 25-17, 25-10, 25-3 dismantling of Caprock Academy last Thursday evening in the last regular season match at home for the Eagles.

Hartigan continued her marvelous season and led the Eagles with 10 kills, seven aces and four blocks in the victory. Palmer chipped in with eight kills and Pieper tallied 23 assists.

Then Paonia concluded its regular season with a 25-15, 25-15, 25-18 triumph at Meeker that brought the Eagles record to 17-2 to finish the 2016 volleyball campaign.

Hartigan contributed eight kills, four aces and four blocks to the win.

Palmer, Sophia Anderson and Brianna Van Vleet all hit eight kills in the victory at Meeker. Pieper finished with 26 assists in the match.

Paonia goes to Grand Valley this weekend as the No. 1 seed at the district tournament.

Regionals are next weekend and then the state tournament is at the Denver Coliseum on Nov. 11-12.