Battle Mountain volleyball is ranked No. 5 in the state. The Huskies are hosting regionals for the first time since 2006, when said tournament was in Eagle-Vail. Battle Mountain is hosting what the maxpreps.com computers said are the Nos. 20 and 32 teams in the state on Saturday with a berth in the state tournament on the line.
“We’re still looking at this as the underdogs,” Battle Mountain coach Jason Fitzgerald said.
That’s some coach-speak and that’s some reality on Fitzgerald’s part as the Huskies host the Class 4A Region 5 Volleyball Tournament Saturday. It’s a round-robin as the Huskies welcome No. 20 Coronado and No. 32. Canon City. Battle Mountain plays Canon City at 10 a.m. and Coronado at 2 p.m., with the two visitors facing off at noon.
The Huskies have the home-court advantage, which is big considering their opponents will be travelling up here, and a glittering 20-1 record. What the Huskies don’t have is postseason experience against good teams. Hence, Fitzgerald’s play as the Huskies as underdogs.
Since this is the time of year where everyone rushes to www.maxpreps.com to look like experts, here we go. Canon City tied for second in the South Central League. The Tigers are 14-9 overall. One of those nine losses was a 2-0 decision to Montrose at a regular-season-ending tournament. Battle Mountain’s only loss this season is to those same Indians during the season-opener. Coronado is 16-7 and won the Colorado Springs Metro League.
‘One day at a time’
As nice as winning the Western Slope was and 20 victories in a row sounds, this is going to be a step up this weekend.
“The cliche would be, ‘One day at a time,’” Fitzgerald said. “It’s the truth. We allow them to dream for a few minutes and then get right back to work.”
If all three teams end up tied at 1-1 after pool play, then the squads will be ranked on set-winning percentage and then Nos. 2 and 3 will play a set to 25 points with the winner advancing to play No. 1 in another 25-point playoff.
However it falls out Saturday, the Huskies desperately want to reach the Denver Coliseum and the state tournament.
“I think they felt last year was a chance,” Fitzgerald said. “They were on the outside looking in (on qualifying for regionals). This year, they have been dedicated to give themselves an opportunity. It would be a tremendous step for them and the program.”
Eagle Valley volleyball drew No. 22 in the 4A rankings. The good news is that the Devils do not have to travel to Cortez to play the Panthers. The bad news is that they’re in Region 4 at Cheyenne Mountain, the five-time defending 4A state champions.
“We’ve got nothing to lose,” Devils coach Garrett La Force said. “We had the opportunity to watch them play (last weekend at the Summit tournament). We saw what we’re up against. We have no reason to walk into that gym with high hopes, fighting to be a state finalist.”
Eagle Valley faces Cortez at noon, followed by Cheyenne Mountain at 2 p.m.
Vail Christian could be hosting its regional tournament Saturday, but for a five-set loss to Dove Creek at last weekend’s district tournament.
Instead, the Saints are off to La Veta — it’s southwest of Pueblo, if you were wondering — for Region A with the aforementioned La Veta Redskins and the Cotopaxi Pirates.
In Class 1A, the winners of eight regional tournaments advance to state, along with four wild-card entries based on the www.maxpreps.com rankings after the regional round. While La Veta is hosting, the Saints (No. 8) are actually the highest-ranked team in the pool, while the Redskins are No. 16 and Cotopaxi No. 36. Yes, it is a different sport and a quote from 10 years ago, but former Vail Christian football coach Bob Isbell said, “Rankings don’t score you points.”
“We haven’t seen La Veta in years,” said Saints coach Cathy Alexander, whose teams did seem to meet up with the Redskins in Gunnison regularly in this round of the postseason during the middle of the past decade. “We’ve got to take care of our side of the court.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and firstname.lastname@example.org.