GYPSUM - While one might of expected that Battle Mountain volleyball would start singing Handel's "Hallelujah" Chorus, the Huskies reacted more with relief after finally defeating Eagle Valley for the first time since 2008.
Put it in the books. Battle Mountain snapped a nine-game skid - seven in the regular season and two losses in district play - against the Devils with a 23-25, 25-14, 25-14, 25-9 Saturday in Gypsum.
Huskies senior Lindsey Huttrer joked after the game that they had tried so many different routines to get ready for the Devils that "it made us a little bit mental about it."
However, Battle Mountain's collective head was clear Saturday.
"Definitely throughout the match, we pushed extremely hard," Huttrer said. "The whole bench and on the floor, we knew we could do it because we had our game on and our heads on. Coming out here today, we were focused and ready to go."
And spot-on serving from Mackenzie Ellison helped.
"I think when Mac got that 10-serve streak, I thought, 'OK, this is working,'" senior Kelsey Belmm said.
"Really nice," Huskies coach Jason Fitzgerald said. "This game carries a lot of valley pressure between the kids knowing each other and the history of the two schools. It's a big win for us. We worked really hard this week in practice together to stay sharp. We same to have a problem getting that Game 1 under our belts, but we rebounded well. I'm proud of the defensive effort we put in tonight."
The Devils tipped the Huskies to death in the first meeting, and the latter adjusted accordingly. After a rocky first game, the Huskies played their power style and got comfortable.
"We scored points in the first set and nothing in the final three," said Devils coach Shawn Weatherred, who team fell to 3-10 overall and 3-8 in the 4A Slope. "Battle Mountain played well. Give them credit. They played lights out. They played as good as I thought they could play the whole season."
And don't look now, but Battle Mountain (8-6, 5-4) has won five straight games. The Huskies are at Coal Ridge Tuesday and host Delta at 6 p.m. on Thursday and hope to keep the momentum rolling.
Class 4A volleyball has a new postseason format this season. Districts are out and 36 teams make regionals. The "primary seeding consideration," according to the CHSAA Volleyball Bulletin is the MaxPreps Freeman Rankings. Said standings had Battle Mountain ranked 39th before this week's pair of wins.
A reasonable assumption is that if the Huskies keep winning, they'll move up.
"We're just going to stay with one match at a time and one minute of defense at a time," Fitzgerald said. "We've got big matches with Delta, Palisade and Steamboat still. We have a lot of league to go to put ourselves in position. I'm trying to put (regionals) on the back-burner."
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.