Whittell volleyball can’t close out Coleville in five-set defeat
The Whittell volleyball team had plenty of chances to secure a victory on its home floor Tuesday, Oct. 13, but ultimately couldn’t close. The Warriors lost to visiting Coleville in five sets 25-16, 21-25, 27-25, 19-25, 17-19, a frustrating defeat that evened their record in league play.
“This was our opportunity for revenge — we were at home and it’s our stomping ground,” Warriors coach Stephanie McClendon said. “It was a tough one to swallow, especially because we would win a game then lose one.”
Neither team led by more than two points in a tight fifth set that eventually went to the Wolves. Whittell (7-11, 5-5 IV West) couldn’t convert on four match points, and on Coleville’s second chance to secure the win Naomi Graves smacked a kill that sent the Warriors to defeat.
“We had plenty of opportunities,” McClendon said. “Our big players need to learn how to put the ball away and our other players need to learn where to put the ball and be smart.”
Whittell took the first set 25-16 before Coleville (7-11, 6-4) evened the match. In the third set, the Warriors used a late rally to fight off four match points and eventually retake the lead.
The Warriors trailed 24-20 before reeling off five straight points — a kill from Tatum Libert followed by an ace from Kaitlyn Kjer put the hosts ahead 25-24. Three points later, Libert delivered an ace to put Whittell back in front.
“It was great to see the side of us that could come back when the game is on the line like that,” McClendon said. “Kaitlyn served under pressure and did an awesome job.”
Whittell stayed ahead of Coleville through a close start to the fourth set, and a kill from Jordyn Becker gave the Warriors a 15-13 lead. But Coleville rallied with a 9-1 run to take its first lead of the frame, and had a 22-16 advantage after an ace from Graves — from there, the Wolves closed out the set to tie the match.
“We just need to learn how to finish and be more aggressive and more confident in ourselves,” McClendon said. “We need to ignite the fire of competitiveness — we’re too nice.”
For the Warriors, the loss marked a second straight five-set defeat against Coleville. Whittell has played four matches that have gone the distance in league play, and come away empty each time.
“They’re learning to play better as a team and they’re raising their intensity,” McClendon said. “We just have to keep improving little by little and take advantage of those opportunities towards the end — we really can’t draw it out any more.”
With sixth matches left in league play, Whittell is one of four teams fighting for the last two playoff spots in Div. IV West League. Coleville, Sage Ridge (4-4) and Mineral County (4-5) are all contending for a postseason berth behind league-leading Smith Valley (11-0) and second-place Virginia City (9-2).
“They have just as good a chance as those other teams and they need to capitalize on that if they really want it,” McClendon said. “We have to start raising intensity at practices if we want to play better — I have high expectations for practices from here on out.”
Whittell returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 17, at Virginia City. First serve is scheduled for 11 a.m.
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