A balanced attack and a knack for winning the big points helped Coronado overcome senior night and one of the city's top hitters Thursday night.
Annie MacMillian had 20 assists and Julie Ward 18 digs to lead the Cougars to a 25-20, 27-25, 25-20 victory over Mesa Ridge in a battle between two of the 4A Colorado Springs Metro League's top teams. Coronado (8-3, 3-0 4A CSML) held Mesa Ridge star sophomore Kylee Shook to 10 kills and eight digs to earn its third straight win and spoil senior night for seven Grizzlies.
Most of the match's big blocks, kills and digs came on the Cougars' side of the net as players made clutch plays at key moments in the back-and-forth affair.
"We didn't control our side as much as I wanted to, but when we controlled our side, we could run our offense," said Coronado coach Don Lash, whose team also defeated the Grizzlies 2-1 in a tournament at Mesa Ridge on Sept. 7. "We're not huge, so we have to play great defense, and I'm not happy with anything less than great. We can look at film and see lots of areas to improve, and also see a lot of what we did well.
"We needed that (test)."
Alexia Morey led Coronado with eight kills, with Kaira Smith adding seven and Brittany Lesar six with a 54.5 hitting percentage.
Mesa Ridge (9-4, 3-1) led 10-5 in the first game before an 8-2 run put the Cougars ahead for good 13-12. The second game was a seesaw battle, with the Cougars taking a 16-11 lead before the Grizzlies used an 8-1 run to stave off game points and take a 25-24 lead. Back-to-back aces helped Coronado close out the tight game and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The teams traded early runs and were knotted at 10 before a 5-0 Cougars run led to a 19-13 advantage Coronado would not relinquish.
"It was a great game, and we were really looking forward to it," said Ward, one of five senior Cougars. "As a team, we're very close, and even in tight situations, we can trust each other. It was a matter of winning the big rallies and keeping our momentum, and I think we were able to keep an even pace even when things got a little chaotic.
"We learned so much from this game, and we're getting better every day at practice."
For the Grizzlies, the night was a frustrating mix of a disjointed offensive effort and an inability to win the majority of the key points.
"We played really well, but a couple of missed serves at key points made a difference," Mesa Ridge coach Francis Calar said. "It could have gone either way, and I knew it was going to be tough."
Aeryn Quintana had 27 assists and 10 digs, with Ipo Achui chipping in 14 digs for Mesa Ridge.