After suffering an unfortunate COVID incidence, Delta High School’s volleyball team appears to be back to more positive results in the matches played since the loss of five players in two games last week (March 25 and 26). The Panthers lost to both Montrose and Basalt in three sets with players making the most of the experience with a makeshift lineup that played very well.

The most recent games against Grand Junction Central, Cedaredge and 3A WSL leading Coal Ridge showed what can be done when the Panthers have most of their starters on the floor at the same time. Delta defeated the Warriors on Tuesday, March 30, 3-0 and battled a very competitive Cedaredge team on Thursday, April 1, for a 3-1 match victory. Against Coal Ridge on Saturday, the Panthers knocked off league-leading Coal Ridge in another three-set victory.

Delta vs Central

The visiting Central Warriors played evenly with Delta for the first half of the opening set and led 10-9 before senior Jillian Carlson’s service produced a 10-10 tie. Junior Kayla Miller took service with Delta leading 11-10 and had the Panthers on top 15-11 when she exited her service rotation. After that, junior Raelee McCurdy served the Panthers to a 22-15 lead before a kill from McCurdy ended the first set, 25-16.

Play in the second set was nearly identical to the opening set except the Warriors were leading 17-15 before junior Erika Kuta’s service carried Delta to a 21-18 lead. The set remained close the rest of the way with sophomore Ellie Ames finishing the set on a service ace to make the score 25-21.

Delta jumped to a 15-5 lead in the third set and eventually cruised to a 25-15 win to win the match, 3-0.

McCurdy was Delta’s leader in kills with eight with Miller following with five with Carlson and Kuta next with three kills each. Kuta finished with 14 digs and three assists and Carlson had a team-high 16 assists.

Alex Wagner paced the Warriors attack with six kills while Logan McCabe and Rhyan Mason collected eight digs apiece. Mason finished with 30 receptions and Kamryn Monroe had 11 assists.

Delta vs Cedaredge

Delta’s next match against Cedaredge was an equally challenging contest with the Bruins and Panthers trading points, and the lead, in the matches’ opening set. With the score tied, 22-22, libero Paige McGovern held serve for three successful points to end the set, 25-22, giving Cedaredge a 1-0 lead.

Cedaredge was leading 23-20 in the second set when Kuta took service for the Panthers. Kuta held service for the next five points as Delta tied the match with a 25-23 second set win.

The Bruins worked their way to a 10-4 lead in the third set before Delta began a comeback that pulled the Panthers to within four at 11-7 and the two teams traded points until Delta took the lead for good during a Kuta serve and an Ames kill to give the Panthers a 19-18 lead. After that, Delta used Miller’s serving to reel off the final five points for a 25-20 win in set three.

Delta seemed to have control of the match in the fourth set and took an early 7-4 lead only to have the Bruins cut that lead to one on a Kimber Alanko kill that made the score 9-8 in favor of the Panthers. After that, Delta’s lead grew steadily until junior Melana McCormick’s service produced a 25-19 set-win and a 3-1 victory for the match.

Kuta found places in the Bruins’ defense for 14 kills with McCurdy’s 12 close behind. Ames finished with seven kills and Miller had four. Digs’ leaders were Kuta and McCurdy with 15 each and Ames and Miller had 13 apiece.

Delta vs Coal Ridge

Saturday’s match against Coal Ridge was anything but easy as the Titans provided stiff competition throughout the contest. Each team had 20 or more points in the match with Delta winning in three sets, 25-23, 25-20 and 25-21.

Delta improved its overall record to 4-3 in the 3A WSL and is 2-1 in league play. Coal Ridge’s record slipped to 4-2 and 2-1 for second place with Basalt easing into the lead with its 4-3 overall mark and a 3-0 record in league play.

The Panthers face Montrose in a rematch on Wednesday, April 7, with matches beginning at 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Montrose won the first meeting between the two schools, 3-0. Delta finishes the week in Gunnison on Friday, April 9 with matches set for 4, 5 and 6 p.m.

Next week’s schedule has Rifle visiting the Panthers on Tuesday, April 13, with matches scheduled for 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Moffat County comes to Delta on Thursday for matches at 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.

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