Mead’s Quincey Coyle reared back, delivered a rocket of a ball over the net that tipped off the fingers of Montrose’s Kelsey Rocco and away from any other Montrose player.
Rocco, sporting a half-turned smile, dropped her arms and could only watch on as Mead’s players erupted in cheers, celebrating their straight-sets victory (25-18, 25-22, 26-24) over Montrose to capture the regional championship in Region 8 and a spot in the 4A volleyball state tournament.
Coyle’s game-ending kill was a textbook finish to the Mustangs’ victory. She was as advertised, delivering thunderous strikes and smart and timely plays for a Mead team that nearly lost its first game.
Mullen and Mead, in Game 2 of the regional tournament, played a five-set match that was back-and-forth throughout. Mullen led 2-1 through three sets, but the Mavericks channeled their play from the spring, when they finished as the runner up in 4A, and came back to win 3-2, which included a 15-13 victory in the fifth set.
Montrose and Mead, two teams that could have easily played one another in the state tournament, entered their matchup 1-0.
Earlier in the day, the Indians defeated the Mustangs in straight sets (25-18. 26-24, 25-23).
The score was tied throughout the first set until Montrose pulled away and took a 21-17 lead and finished on a 4-1 run.
Mullen’s offense, particularly on the outside, settled in for a 15-12 lead in the second set. Montrose went on a 10-5 run to take a 22-20 lead before Brooke Williams gave Montrose the edge at 25-24 with a timely block, setting up the 26-24 win.
The first half of the third set was all Indians as they took a 14-5 lead at the midway point. Mullen took advantage of some Montrose mistakes and tied the game 19-19. The Mustangs took a 23-21 lead, but Taygan Rocco set up Montrose’s outside hitters and Taylor Foster to help generate four straight points and the set win.
Although Montrose’s offense did continue a steady rhythm against Mead, it’s defense had trouble containing Coyle and Morgan Munro, Mead’s top two season kill leaders. Foster, Brooke Williams and Jaedyn Key attempted to meet Coyle at the top of the net, but her swings delivered rapidly quick balls that often ricocheted off Montrose’s players.
That was evident in the first set where Coyle had six kills. Her start helped the Mavericks gain an early 15-9 edge that Montrose couldn’t erase.
The Indians pushed back the second set, keeping pace with Mead and at one point took a 22-20 lead. But the Mavericks scored five straight points to take the set.
The heartbreak grew further in set three when Montrose’s 20-15 lead shrunk to 21-19. Montrose went on a 3-2 run to make it 24-21, but Mead didn’t waver, scoring five straight points for the win.
Against Mead, Rocco led with 13 kills followed by Matoush with nine and Foster with four. Rocco also led in digs, with 16, and Jada Ray added 10.
Foster had three blocks and Williams, Key and Matoush had two each.
Kills came much easier against Mullen as Rocco had 15, Matoush had 12 and Foster netted five. Williams’ five blocks led the team and Taygan followed her with four.
The Indians’ season ends with an 18-7 record.
Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press