In a highly anticipated homecoming match between the South Park Burros and the Crested Butte Titans, the Burros battled to the end, but were found on the short end of a three-game loss, Sept. 22.

“We took a tough loss and are disappointed, but we just need to learn from it and put it behind us, and we’ll do that by focusing on practice and look toward our future matches,” head coach Barb McGraw said.

Having taken a three-set loss to the Cotopaxi Pirates Sept. 20, the Burros faced a Titan team who had also taken a three-set loss to the Sanford Indians Sept. 21.

While the two opponents may later face in district competition, the Titans held the upper hand with a 5-6, 2-4 record, compared to the Burro 2-9, 1-1 record prior to the match.

“We still should have beaten them, but our errors overwhelmed us and we couldn’t shake them off and move forward,” McGraw said.

Coming out with a dynamic offense, the Burros struck their opponent with a match total of 31 kills. Dominant from the middle, senior Morgan Burnett delivered 11 kills, while senior Stevi Arellano came from the outside to release 10 by match end. Although crippled the Titans urged forward to take the first set 25-20.

“Crested Butte had a strong middle hitter that placed a few good shots on us from across the net. Although it hurt us, if we had been playing at the top of our game, it shouldn’t have even touched us,” McGraw said.

Bent on taking the victory, the Titans pushed forward with impairing attacks time and again; however, Burnett stood her ground to lead the Burro team with 15 total blocks (11 solo, four assisted).

The effort was supported as younger sister Jordan Burnett shined with three total blocks (two solo, one assisted), while sophomore Chloe Campbell and junior Piper Davis contributed with two blocks apiece. The counter assaults hindered South Park play as the Titans took the second match 25-19.

“Our biggest challenge is building and maintaining our teamwork. Especially, when the going gets tough,” McGraw said.

Faced with the efforts being exerted, the Burros relied on court coverage to get things moving. In doing so, the squad racked up 41 digs and 72 receptions off of the Titan’s serves.

Leading from digs, setter Alyssa Davis shovelled up 15 for the match and still managed to record 17 assists in the process. In the meantime, senior libero Molly Batts took control of the serves to tally up 48 receptions, followed by senior Emma Braggins and sophomore Burnett with eight apiece. Despite the efforts given, the Burros suffered a 27-25 final set score.

“We are working on changing the culture of the program, but it will take time. We just need to continue to work hard and keep our expectations even higher,” McGraw said.

Having undergone four consecutive losses since the victory over rival Custer County Bobcats Sept. 8, the Burros have been bumped to a 3-9 overall record. The defeat from Cotopaxi dropped the league record to 1-1, but the Burros still stand strong in the number two position within the 2A/1A West Central League standings.

They will attempt to gain footing when facing Gilpin County in a home non-conference match Sept. 27, followed by an away match with the Center Vikings Sept. 28 and will round out the week’s campaign with a home league matchup with the Cripple Creek-Victor Pioneers Sept. 29.

Despite the recent loss, the Lady Burros are thriving in building a community on and off the court. Recent activity found the Burros joining the USA Volleyball “Leave A Ball Behind” program.

USA Volleyball is the national Governing Body for the sport of volleyball in the United States and is recognized as such by the Federation Internationale de Volleyball and the United States Olympic Committee, which offers such programs, where the Burros donated a signed ball from all of the players and coaches to a volleyball team in need.

“The University of Charleston South Carolina will be taking South Park’s ball to Puerto Rico to give to one of the programs they support in that area,” McGraw said.

In addition, the Burros will unite with the Salvation Army Oct. 5, where the players are helping with firewood collection and splitting for donation to local families in need.

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