Even before the start of the Dolores High School volleyball team’s opening match of the Class 2A Region 3 Tournament on Saturday, a capacity crowd at the Lady Bears’ gym made its presence felt with ruckus cheers that reverberated off the rafters.
Over the next 60-plus minutes, the noise intensified as Dolores, buoyed by an aggressive offensive approach and stout defense, defeated Telluride 25-14, 25-19, 22-25, 25-15. The win marked the first of two steps that the Lady Bears must take to win the regional tournament and qualify for state for the first time since 2014.
“Our approach is just to play as hard as we can all of the time and work together,” said Dolores junior Tatum Majors. “We were able to play our game and flow as a team.”
The Lady Bears’ flow was evident throughout its first set against Telluride, which began with three straight Dolores points due in large part to quality serves by senior Sierra Schwartz.
A cross-court kill by sophomore Jordan Elder, a hard kill down the middle by senior Cameron Elder and a hard kill off the Telluride block by Jordan Elder put Dolores ahead 9-4 later in the first set as Telluride called a timeout.
An 8-0 run by Dolores behind the serving of Tatum Majors helped the Lady Bears close out a dominant first set, which, according to senior setter Abby Jones, was keyed by the team’s attack from all sides of the court.
“We have so many great hitters, Josie (Majors), Tatum (Majors), Sierra (Schwartz) and Jordan (Elder),” Jones said. “As a setter, I just need to be sure that I’m focusing on the ball and setting up all of my teammates.”
Looking to carry its momentum into the second set, Dolores received a boost from Jones’ serving, which helped the Lady Bears go on a 5-0 run en route to a 10-5 lead. An ace by Jordan Elder increased Dolores’ lead to 18-12 later in the set, and the Lady Bears closed things out after a kill by Tatum Majors and a hitting error by Telluride.
Up two sets and looking to close things out, Dolores pulled ahead 10-5 in the third game before appearing to lose focus during a series of points that ended with the score tied 22-22. Telluride went on to win the final three points of the game thanks to a Dolores hitting error, a block by Lauren Purdy and a kill by Danika Petit.
“Whenever we don’t communicate well, we kind of get out of sorts,” said Tatum Majors, when asked about her team’s struggles during the third set. “We always seem to pull it together though, because we’re close as a team.”
Such closeness was evident throughout the fourth and final set as Dolores weathered an early storm before using a 12-0 run to turn an 11-14 deficit into a 23-14 lead. While many factors contributed to the long run, nothing played a more significant role than the serving of Tatum Majors, which consistently put Telluride players on their heels.
“When I’m serving, I just think to myself that I have to do this for our (seniors),” Tatum Majors said. “They’ve worked really hard, and we’ve all worked really hard this season.”
After closing out the final set with a hard kill down the middle by Jordan Elder, Dolores players briefly celebrated near their bench before migrating to the stands to watch the regional tournament’s second match between Rangely and Telluride.
Following the conclusion of the Rangely-Telluride match, Dolores players will face off against Rangely with a berth in the Class 2A state tournament on the line.
“Right now, I’m going to our locker room to put some headphones in and get ready for our next match,” said Jones. “We still have work to do to accomplish our ultimate goal.”