Yet the Lady Miners beat the odds, as a large local crowd cheered them to three straight set victories against Dolores, then three more against Ignacio, to claim the No. 2 seed going into the upcoming Regional tournament.
It will be Telluride’s first appearance at Regionals in several years.
With precisely-placed serves, Telluride’s Catalina Madrid got her team on an early roll in set two, but Dolores eventually assumed the lead after 15 points. Telluride Junior Emy Ludwig spearheaded a comeback attempt late in the game, with a tip fake and then an ace on her next serve. But Dolores’ big hitters, Cydney McHenry, Jaycee Gallaher and Keelin Nickerson, wouldn’t back down, and Telluride succumbed 25-20.
Following that second set, Miner Coach Fawnda Rodgers said her team’s prospects looked pretty dismal.
“I told the girls that they needed to lay it all on the line. They really had nothing to lose at that point,” she said.
The Miners followed through.
Telluride clamored to an early lead in set three, thanks in part to stoic defense from Scout Franklin and Erin Kean. The ever-battling Bears were insistent, however, threatening a comeback as they brought the score to within two points at 20-18. A series of long rallies that all ended in Telluride’s favor allowed the Miners to take the third set 25-22.
There was no stopping them from there. Telluride took the next two sets, 25-19 and 15-8. They then went on to defeat Ignacio in three sets, and with Mancos beating Dolores later in the day, Telluride landed in the number two spot and a trip to this weekend’s Regional Tournament.
Junior Emily Langley said that the turning point for her squad came after their second set loss to Dolores. “We kept a really positive attitude. We knew we had to win the next three sets to get to Regionals, and that had been our goal going into Districts,” she said.
Rogers agreed that when the girls finally found their groove and dug deep last weekend, they made it very tough for their competition.
“They truly wanted to win and were physically the stronger team. However, mentally they need work. Fortunately, they met the challenge and came back and beat Dolores. It is a beautiful thing when it all comes together,” Rogers said.
The Miners will meet Mancos, Paonia and Rangely in Palisade at the 2A Regional Tournament this Saturday, Nov. 6. According to Langely, if her team manages to play at their highest level, they should have a good chance.
“We just need to play our game, and focus on each individual point. When we get into a hole, we just have to get out of it, instead of digging ourselves deeper,” she said.