When the Delta High School volleyball team dropped its first set against North Fork last Tuesday, it made Panthers coach Beth Nelson uneasy. She knew about the strong season the Miners are having, as well as the historical success of Paonia, Hotchkiss and its collective coaches.
But a strong attack from Delta carried the next three sets and the Panthers parlayed that into a 19-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-21 victory. The win started a streak for the Panthers (9-4) that still stands — they’ve won nine consecutive sets after sweeps of Gunnison and Aspen later in the week.
“After we dropped that first set, I was a little nervous,” Nelson said. “But I was pleased with how the girls stayed composed.”
That composure materialized in the attack, where Ellie Ames and Kaelynn Porter each finished with 12 kills and four aces against the Miners (8-5). Erika Kuta added another 10 kills.
Two days later, Delta took care of Gunnison 25-13, 25-15, 25-15.
Once again, offense was the focal point and the Panthers finished with a .208 hitting percentage as a team, their second-highest total of the season.
Nelson said the match against the Cowboys (2-11) was a chance to focus on improvement.
“We’re trying to work on speeding up our offense,” Nelson said. “Against Gunnison we were able to be more aggressive and show off our hitting.”
Twelve players shared in the attack, led by six kills from Porter and five kills from Ames and Kayla Miller. Freshman Sophia Chavez had a match-high five aces.
In the final match of the week, Ames took over during a 25-13, 25-18, 27-25 victory over Aspen. Ames finished with 16 kills against the Skiers (5-3).
The Panthers remain undefeated in 3A Western Slope League play at 7-0 and Nelson said her team is focused on winning league games. However, powerhouse programs like Fruita Monument and Montrose loom on the horizon. The Panthers travel to face Grand Valley on Tuesday before returning home to host Fruita Monument on Thursday.
“We’re trying to take care of our league with Grand Valley coming up this week and Basalt next week,” Nelson said. “Fruita and Montrose, those are bonus games for us. They’re solid programs and it’d be great if we could pull off a win against one of those teams, but it will be good to just test ourselves against those fast teams as we make our way towards playoffs.”