Paonia VB recovers from rare dual losses

By Eric Goold


The Paonia High School volleyball team found itself in very unfamiliar territory last week after suffering its first consecutive defeats during the regular season in many years.

"Our last league loss was in 2011," Eagles coach Krista Carsten said. "And although we lost two in a row at the state tournament two years ago, it hasn't happened during the regular season in quite some time."

Coal Ridge was 7-5 going into its home match with Paonia last Tuesday.

"We knew they would be a solid team for us since we played them last year and they were also at the state tournament," Carsten said. "We did not perform well offensively and basically fell apart in game four. We didn't battle like we had in the match against Grand Junction, which was definitely a disappointment."

Coal Ridge won the match 26-24, 16-25, 25-21, 25-15.

"I think some of our starters are still trying to find confidence and believe in their own abilities," Carsten said. "Definitely a disappointing loss but hopefully an opportunity to identify some weaknesses and get things fixed before post-season gets here."

Ashley Van Vleet and McKenna Hartigan each had 10 kills in the loss, Emily Pieper recorded four aces and Taylor Carsten put up 19 assists for the Eagles.

Paonia had little time to recover, going to Cedaredge last Thursday night to face the veteran Bruins. Paonia lost a close match 3-1.

The Eagles (8-2) were able to right the ship last Friday, going to Grand Valley and winning 25-14, 25-21, 25-15.

"After we struggled both on Tuesday and Thursday, it was a nice match for the girls to get back on their feet and into the rhythm they are used to," Carsten said. "As a team we hit .378, which is back where we want to be offensively."

In the win against Grand Valley, Ashley Van Vleet led the way with 15 kills.

Pieper knocked home five aces and Taylor Carsten put up 19 assists.

Friday night at 5 p.m. the Eagles host Meeker in the annual Pink Night. The breast cancer awareness program has raised over $10,000 over the last three years and the event has been a popular highlight of the volleyball season.

All of the proceeds from Friday night's match go to HopeWest, which provides hospice care, grief counseling and other vital services to the local community.