EDWARDS - It had to go five games. Just had to.
"It felt like it was going to go on and on and on," Eagle Valley's Lacey Gerard said.
"For us to win, I figured it would take five," Devils volleyball coach Shawn Weatherred said.
He ain't the coach for nothing as the Devils outlasted Battle Mountain, 28-26, 23-25, 25-19, 19-25, 15-8, Saturday afternoon in Edwards in an instant classic.
The Devils have had a hurry-up-and-wait season to date. They started practice Aug. 13, but, due to a quirk of the schedule, didn't play their first game until last week. This week, Eagle Valley had four game in five days, and went 2-2 during that stretch.
"I can't say enough about them at this point, we've had a tough start," Weatherred said. "We're starting to come together. Those tough starts can pull a team apart sometimes. They're starting to come together and rally around, circle the wagons, as Chris Berman would say."
And now all shall refer to Devils volleyball as the Buffalo Bills.
"I think it definitely pushed us," Gerard said. "It made us show that we are a team. I think these four games really did help us. It pushed us. It made us become stronger players."
The tipping point in this match was, well, tips. Eagle Valley used the tip to vary its attack, and Battle Mountain couldn't adapt.
"We need to obviously cover the three-tip better and not make so many errors on our side of the court," said Huskies coach Jason Fitzgerald. "We're not being beat, so much as we're beating ourselves. Eagle Valley came in and played a great match, played great defense, and exploited a weakness that we refused to better."
After the first game went to 28 points with the Devils winning, it was probably a pretty good idea to settle in for a while. The game slowed to a crawl in the second stanza as Battle Mountain had rotation issues and Weatherred uncharacteristically argued for a backcourt-frontcourt violation. As a big rivalry game should, this one had a little bit of everything.
But Eagle Valley finally put it away with a strong burst in the fifth, taking leads of 7-1 and 10-3.
"The bench was involved," Weatherred said. "They were enjoying the success of the people on the court. They were a part of it, and it takes 14 of us to be any good."
The Devils' Tiffany Sheehy put down match point.
Eagle Valley is now 2-4 overall and 2-3 in the Slope. The Devils host Roaring Fork Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Huskies (3-3, 1-2) will regroup. All three of their losses, including two in the last three days, were in five games.
"It's understanding that we put ourselves in that position to win or lose Game 5," Fitzgerald said. "If we can just put the pedal down in Games 1-3, we wouldn't have to be under that kind of pressure. It's being ready and putting the pressure on ourselves to play better earlier."
Battle Mountain is At Vail Mountain Tuesday at 6 p.m., and just in case you're curious, these teams meet again Oct. 13 in Gypsum.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.