Grand County High School freshman volleyball player Kay Watson, right, slams one down on Emery High School's Raegan Rasmussen, during a game in Moab on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

After a 3-0 loss to 1A powerhouse Monticello on Thursday, Oct. 1, the Grand County Lady Red Devils volleyball team bounced back with decisive straight-set victories over Gunnison on Friday, Oct. 2, and Manti on Saturday, Oct. 3.

Blocking and good serves were the recipe for success as Grand welcomed region foes Gunnison and Manti to the Devils’ Den, coach Brittney Melton said. Grand had 14 aces versus the Bulldogs on Friday, led by seniors Talaunee Croasmun, Madi Jones and Kennedi Patterson, who each had three as the Lady Red Devils made quick work of the Bulldogs, winning the first two sets before putting a stamp on the victory with a 25-6 shellacking in the third set.

The Lady Red Devils followed up Friday’s performance with 12 services aces against the Templars on Saturday, led by junior Tia Shumway with four. Grand won the first set 25-18, the second 25-13 and the third 25-15.

The Lady Red Devils boast a 5-2 region record as of Monday, Oct. 5, with three region games remaining, the first of which was scheduled to take place in the Devils’ Den versus Emery on Tuesday, Oct. 6. The Lady Spartans defeated Grand in five sets on Sept. 15.

“We missed our big hitter, (junior Rylee Pruitt) for most of the last match as she hurt her ankle in the second set,” Melton said. “I’m excited to have her back for this one.”

The Red Devils are next scheduled to play at the Sevier Valley Invitational on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 9 and 10, before they play their home finale versus San Juan on Thursday, Oct. 15. The Lady Broncos defeated Grand in five sets, the last of which was a 15-13 heartbreaker, on Sept. 22.

“We have some home court advantages coming up with both Emery and San Juan coming here,” Melton said. “We need to win those games.”

With Grand trying to improve its playoff seeding with its three remaining region games, Melton said the team has been playing together and jelling well, thanks in part to the senior leadership on the team.

“The leadership on this team has been phenominal,” she said. “(Seniors Tracy Dalton and Madi Jones) are our captains and they’ve done a great job getting the team pumped up for games.”

Before cleaning up in region play over the weekend, Grand suffered a 3-0 loss to Monticello on Thursday, Oct. 1, its second straight-set defeat to the Buckaroos this season, the first of which happened at Moab’s homecoming on Sept. 17.

“Monticello runs a quick offense,” Melton said. “They’re a great team, they’re well-coached, and they out-performed us. When Monticello executes its quick offense well, our blockers are late so their hitters hit the ball where nobody is supposed to be because the blockers are supposed to get to the ball. I would venture to guess they’re going to win the 1A state title.”

Melton said the Lady Red Devils have talked extensively about how to stop a quick offense, including swithcing to a perimeter defense from a rotational defense. After their home finale versus the Lady Broncos, the Lady Red Devils have their regular season wrap up on Friday, Oct. 23, at North Sevier before the state tournament takes place on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30 and 31, at Utah Valley University in Orem.

Grand enters home stretch looking to improve playoff seeding

“We have home court advantages coming up with both Emery and San Juan coming here. We need to win those games.”

When: Thursday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m.

Where: Grand County High School gymnasium, 608 S. 400 East

Senior players and their parents will be recognized prior to the varsity match