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Lady Bulldogs take charge , beat Templars in straight sets

Gunnison Valley senior Naomi Willdon contests a ball at the net as junior teammate Raven Pickett looks on.

Lady Bulldogs take charge , beat

Templars in straight sets

 

By Ben Lassetter

Staff writer

8-27-2020

 

GUNNISON—In each team’s third match of the season, the Gunnison Valley Bulldogs gave a packed home crowd a commanding rivalry win, 25-8, 25-21 and 25-20, over the Manti Templars Thursday.

“We came in after losing the previous two games with two losses on the season,” said Gunnison Valley Coach Shanell Knudsen. “We focused on the mental game, because that’s what was lacking in the other two games. The girls just stayed intense all night.”

The Bulldogs came out playing with confidence, breaking out with an 8-1 run to begin the contest. With fundamental play, they were able to send the Templars scrambling early, and they got a few favorable bounces to boot. Junior middle hitter Raven Pickett closed the 25-8 first set by serving a 9-0 run.

Before the next set, a faculty member with a microphone reminded fans to wear masks as a measure to keep fall sports safe amid the pandemic.

The second set was a different story from the first, with Manti putting up a much stronger defense. Players like sophomore defensive specialist Rylie Anderson were diving on the floor and making connections that led to points. The teams battled back-and-forth, but after Manti gained its first lead at 14-13, Gunnison Valley regained control immediately and never looked back. They took the second set 25-21.

In the third set, both teams played well, but once again, the Bulldogs were better. The rivals traded leads in a hard-fought first half of the final bout. Thanks in part to junior outside hitter Kennedi Knudsen, who had 18 kills on the day, keeping her opponents off-balance at the net, Gunnison Valley pulled away again. They won the final set 25-20, completing their first win of the season.

The result of the game set both teams’ overall records at 1-2 on the year.

Coach Knudsen said the team is feeling “really good, really confident” going into the rest of the season.

“We came in after losing the previous two games with two losses on the season,” said Gunnison Valley Coach Shanell Knudsen. “We focused on the mental game, because that’s what was lacking in the other two games. The girls just stayed intense all night.”

The Bulldogs came out playing with confidence, breaking out with an 8-1 run to begin the contest. With fundamental play, they were able to send the Templars scrambling early, and they got a few favorable bounces to boot. Junior middle hitter Raven Pickett closed the 25-8 first set by serving a 9-0 run.

Before the next set, a faculty member with a microphone reminded fans to wear masks as a measure to keep fall sports safe amid the pandemic.

The second set was a different story from the first, with Manti putting up a much stronger defense. Players like sophomore defensive specialist Rylie Anderson were diving on the floor and making connections that led to points. The teams battled back-and-forth, but after Manti gained its first lead at 14-13, Gunnison Valley regained control immediately and never looked back. They took the second set 25-21.

In the third set, both teams played well, but once again, the Bulldogs were better. The rivals traded leads in a hard-fought first half of the final bout. Thanks in part to junior outside hitter Kennedi Knudsen, who had 18 kills on the day, keeping her opponents off-balance at the net, Gunnison Valley pulled away again. They won the final set 25-20, completing their first win of the season.

The result of the game set both teams’ overall records at 1-2 on the year.

Coach Knudsen said the team is feeling “really good, really confident” going into the rest of the season.