After a storybook season that saw them win 22 of their 26 matches and win the hearts of their fans with their passion and hustle, it seemed unfitting that the Dolores High School volleyball players would end their season with a loss.
A season-ending win was not to be for Dolores, however, as the Lady Bears lost to Rangely, 25-11, 20-25, 26-24, 14-25, 15-13 at the Class 2A State Volleyball Tournament at the Denver Coliseum on Nov. 11.
The loss marked the third in a row for the Lady Bears, who went undefeated against San Juan Basin League competition this season and won 22 straight games after losing their season-opener to John Mall.
Looking sluggish the first set against Rangely, the Lady Bears fell behind 3-0 before earning their first point of the match thanks to a kill by Sierra Schwartz that caromed off Rangely blockers.
Errant passes by several Dolores players throughout the middle portion of the set allowed Rangely to build a 16-8 lead and after a hard kill down the middle by Rangely senior Sarah Conner, Rangely led 23-10.
After another hard kill by Connor mercifully ended the opening set, Dolores quickly regrouped and pulled ahead 4-1 in the second set thanks to a kill by senior Josie Majors and a block by senior Cameron Elder.
Although Rangely regained its composure and gave the Lady Bears all that they could handle during subsequent points, several impressive serves by Cameron Schafer helped Dolores close the second set on a 6-1 run, which culminated with a kill by sophomore Tatum Majors.
Carrying the momentum from its second set victory into the third set, Dolores began dominating the pace of play and pulled ahead 18-10 after an impressive dig by Tatum Majors led to a Rangely hitting error.
The Lady Bears subsequently increased their lead to 20-13 after a block by Cameron Elder, but Rangely regained its form and roared back tie the set at 23-23. The Panthers eventually won the third set after consecutive kills by senior Katelyn Brown.
Knowing that a fourth-set victory was necessary if they were to remain in the match, Dolores players again found their energy and raced out to a 6-1 lead after several nice shots by Jordan Elder and numerous hitting errors by Rangely.
Although Rangely closed the gap and eventually tied the fourth set 10-10, an 8-0 Dolores run with Schafer serving put the Lady Bears ahead 18-10. Dolores went on to win the final five points of the set thanks to a block by Tatum Majors, a block by Jordan Elder, a hitting error on Rangely, a block by Cameron Elder, and a kill by Josie Majors.
Sensing victory at their fingertips, the Lady Bears won the first two points of the fifth set and eventually built a 9-5 lead after a kill by Jordan Elder, a tip by Schwartz, a kill by Tatum Majors, and several Rangely hitting errors.
A Dolores victory was not to be however, as Rangely won 10 of the match’s final 15 points in route to its second five-set victory over Dolores this season.
Even with the loss however, Dolores players exited the court with their heads held high with a knowledge that their historic season will remembered as one of the most successful in their school’s history.