Thriller moves Tribe to No. 1 in RPI
Yuma High School’s volleyball team, fresh off an exciting and successful Homecoming Week, will get a bit of a break before gearing up for the regular season’s stretch run.
The Indians have moved to the top of the Class 2A Rating Percentage Index, jumping over undefeated Meeker, after beating Holyoke last Friday, then claiming a five-set thriller over Class 1A No. 1 Kit Carson, Saturday afternoon in The Pit.
“I can’t help but to be happy with how the girls are playing and how we’ve climbed up to the top of the RPI rankings,” Noble said. “We definitely want to host a regional and, obviously, the higher the seed, the better. We have some tough opponents coming up, so we need to maintain the drive onward and upward through the end of the regular season.”
The Indians host Fleming Friday at 6 p.m. (There will be just a varsity match.) Fleming has been a regular power in 1A for quite some time, but the Wildcats have fallen off the pace a bit this season, sitting at 6-5 heading into this week, but still figure to be a factor in the postseason.
Yuma then gets a full week off before hitting the court in The Pit again next Friday in a major LPAA showdown with the Wiggins Tigers, No. 3 in the RPI and the Top 10, and sitting at 5-0 in LPAA play entering this week.
“It’s nice to have had games practically every other day, because it’s sometimes difficult to replicate competitive game play in practice, but at the same time it’s been hard to zero in on any one particular skill that needs improving, because we’ve been trying to cram everything in in a two-hour window,” Noble said. “So it will be kind of nice to get a few practices in a row, so we don’t have to rush through things.”
The Indians played back-to-back matches in The Pit last weekend for Homecoming Week at YHS.
First up Friday night was a LPAA match against the Holyoke Dragons.
Yuma fought off a scrappy Holyoke squad 25-17, 25-14, 25-14. The Indians tended to give up more points than the opponents scored on their own in the first set.
However, the Tribe tightened up its play after that, jumping out to an 8-1 lead in the second set to force a Holyoke timeout. Consecutive kills by Taylor Hansen and Elle Roth gave Yuma a 16-8 lead. It was 21-10 when Holyoke called another timeout. The Dragons rallied a bit, but after a Yuma timeout, the Indians closed out the set.
They then jumped out to a 12-5 lead in the third set, and cruised from there to another league victory. The Indians have not lost a LPAA match since 2013.
Yuma played efficiently in all aspects of the game, getting plenty of big kills from the likes of Chasey Blach, Cody Robinson and Taylor Hansen, and doing a great job sweeping the back line on digs and serve receive. Players such as Reagan Nolin, Ema Richardson, Elle Roth, Trinity Law and Tania Morales contributed with excellent play.
Hansen led the Indians with 11 kills, while Blach had nine, Robinson eight, Roth four and Richardson three. Nolin recorded 32 setting assists. Blach was a perfect 8-8 in serve receive. Robinson had 20 digs, Roth 11 and Morales 10. Nolin, Richardson and Blach each were in on three blocks. Yuma had 10 serving aces. Hansen was 20-22 with five aces, Blach 13-14 with one ace, Richardson 10-10 with one ace, Robinson 9-11 with two aces, Roth 9-9 with one ace, and Nolin 7-7.
Then came Saturday’s showdown with Kit Carson, the defending 1A champion. The Wildcats entered the match ranked No. 1 in 1A, pitting a pair of top-ranked teams against each other.
Media outlets from all over the region were on hand for the inter-classification battle, which was played before a loud crowd in a nearly-full Pit, as Kit Carson brought plenty of its own fans from down south.
The teams did not disappoint, playing a very well-played match from start to finish.
Yuma had to rally from a 2-1 deficit to pull out the win in five sets, 25-22 19-25, 24-26, 25-15, 15-10.
The first set was close the whole way with the teams tied at 16 and 19. The Indians were able to make enough plays to pull out the three-point win.
A booming kill by Robinson staked Yuma to a 10-4 lead in the second set, prompting a Kit Carson timeout. The Wildcats then caught fire while Yuma went into a mistake-filled funk. The visitors fought back to a tie at 12, and just kept going, taking a 18-12 lead before Yuma finally scored again. The Indians could never get closer than five, though, as Kit Carson won by six.
Yuma fell behind 11-7 in the third set. It then was the Indians’ turn to stage a rally, taking a 19-16 lead. Kit Carson tied it at 19, but Blach got a block at the net and then served up a point to help the Tribe to a 22-19 lead.
The Indians led 24-22, but could not close out the deal as Kit Carson scored four straight to claim a 26-24 win and take a 2-1 set lead.
Yuma then fell behind 5-2 in the fourth set. However, Hansen kept coming up big defensively at the net with several blocks as the Indians took leads of 14-9 and 17-10. The Indians cruised from there to a 10-point win, setting up the deciding fifth set.
Kit Carson again claimed the early advantage, takin ga 4-1 lead. Yuma rallied to knot the score at 6. The Indians fell behind 8-6, but Hansen came up big again at the net, and the Indians scored four straight for a 10-8 lead, prompting a Kit Carson timeout.
It did not matter as the Indians went ahead 12-9 on their way to the clinching 15-10 victory.
“In a sense we’ve been practicing all season for a comeback like we had against Kit Carson,” Noble said. “We’ve had several sets that we’ve had to come from behind, and our entire match last Saturday was no different. After losing our lead at the end of the third set, and falling behind 1-2 on the match, I’m amazed at how my team responded — that’s not easy to do against a team like that. My girls fought for a win like never before! What an awesome match! It’s going to be a difficult road for other 1A teams down the stretch. But, that’s why we play the game!”
Hansen was in on nine total blocks, including four stuffs, while Blach was in on seven, including three stuffs. Yuma had a total of 15 blocks against likely the tallest team it will see all season. Kit Carson’s Olivia Isenbart was in on six blocks, four of them stuffs. Yuma had 57 kills to 52 for the Wildcats. Blach had 23, Robinson 19, Hansen and Roth seven each, and Richardson one, while Tess Hornung had 20 for Kit Carson and McKenzie Smith 15. Nolin recorded 50 setting assists for the Tribe. Robinson had 31 digs, Morales 19 and Blach 17.
Both teams served in the mid-90 percent range, and both had nine aces. Robinson was 20-20 with one ace, Roth 18-19 with one ace, Hansen 18-21 with one ace, Blach 16-17 with three aces, Richardson 14-15 with two aces, Nolin 12-13 with one ace, and Morales 2-2.
Noble noted Hansen has come up big with blocks and kills recently, and it has been a pleasure to see how the team has stepped up to the challenge.