Times Staff Writer
GHS Volleyball — When adversity hits a program, it's always interesting to see how the team will respond.
Coming off a rough month of October where Gunnison High School (GHS) volleyball team went 2-6 and entered Saturday’s home tournament on a three game losing streak — recently falling 3-1 to Buena Vista on Thursday — it was uncertain how the Cowboys would fair against Jefferson, Mancos and Monte Vista High School.
“To finish the season with a winning record feels really good,” said senior Jenna Wise. “The season as a whole had many ups and downs, but the team worked super hard at our home tournament which allowed us to finish out the season positively.”
GHS came out ready to go from the very first set against Jefferson — making quick work of the Saints, winning in two sets (25-12 and 25-11).
Wise, Zoe Koch and Kylie Travis led the way, each recording three kills. Wise was a force serving, delivering up nine service aces, while also recording 12 assists.
Jaycee Fuller denied two Jefferson kill attempts and had help from Danica Froelich and Annabelle Morrison, who pitched in with a block a piece.
The Cowboys continued their dominance in their second match against Mancos.
Similar to the first contest, GHS didn’t allow the Bluejays to get more than 23 points total — beating Mancos 25-13 and 25-10.
Shaylee Mangum led the way, picking up eight kills and was followed by Fuller, who recorded six kills of her own.
Travis and Wise pitched in with three service aces each, while Wise also added 18 assists. Mikayla Chinn also had two service aces.
In the third game Monte Vista put up a fight, however nothing was going to stop the Cowboys who entered the game on fire.
GHS won once again in two sets (25-14 and 25-15) setting themselves up for a chance to win it all in the tourney’s championship game.
Travis made her presence felt all game, recording 10 kills. Fuller was next in kills, recording four, and was followed by Wise and Froelich, who recorded three kills a piece.
Travis also led the way serving, pitching in with two service aces, and Froelich and Karis Copenhaver pitched in one a piece.
Fuller picked up her fourth block of the tournament, recording two in the game and was joined by Morrison and Froelich, who blocked one a piece.
While the previous three games of the tournament were a cake walk for the Cowboys, they faced a very tough opponent — Dolores High School — who entered the championship match on a 19-game winning streak and is the 2A/1A 2019 San Juan Basin league champs, going 12-0 in league play.
It took all GHS had, as they battled for every point and came away with a two set victory (25-23 and 25-22).
Travis led the way for the Cowboys picking up 10 kills. Fuller picked up nine kills, while Mangum recorded six of her own.
Assisting on the majority of those kills was Wise, who recorded 22 assists.
Fuller and Froelich played key roles on the defensive side, elevating for five total blocks. Fuller had three, while Froelich recorded two.
GHS finished the 2019 season with a 12-10 overall record — which is better than last season, when they finished 9-14 overall.
“This season ended on such a positive note. That is what we need to carry with us into the future,” said Head Coach Shana Benson. “I'm very proud of these girls and their improvement throughout the season. As the seniors walk into the next phases of their lives, I know that they are ready for the next steps, whatever that may be. I am honored to be their coach. I always tell the girls to control your side of the net in both volleyball and in life.”
The Cowboys will look different next season, as they say goodbye to five seniors who played huge roles this year.
Travis, Mangum, Wise, Morrison and Chinn all played their final game on Saturday and left it all on the court.
“We ended our season playing our hearts out,” said Travis. “It felt good to end our season with a win.”
“The best part of playing for the Cowboys is the team,” said Chinn. “Every year the girls are super close, and team bonding is one of the best experiences of high school.”
(Brandon Warr can be reached at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)