Devils spikers sweep Palisade, nearing title | VailDaily.com

Devils spikers sweep Palisade, nearing title

Jon Mitchell
The Daily Sentinel

PALISADE — Palisade's volleyball team showed improvement Friday from its previous two matches this season against Eagle Valley. The Devils, however, showed the Bulldogs how high they've set the bar this season.

Senior outside hitter Kylie Martin had a match-high 10 kills for the Devils — one of four Eagle Valley players to record a kill against the Bulldogs — to help Eagle Valley to a 25-14, 25-22, 25-17 victory at Palisade that put them in position to win the Class 4A Western Slope championship.

"This was huge, and that's why my girls came in here to make a statement," Eagle Valley coach Jackie Rindy said. "We wanted to win in three pretty much like we've done all year, and doing it against a good Palisade team like this was big."

Big in the sense that the sixth-ranked Devils (14-2 overall, 9-0 in the Slope) now need only to win their next league match on Thursday against Battle Mountain to clinch the league title outright. Palisade (9-6, 6-2), which has lost its only league matches to the Devils, could only keep things close down the stretch in the second and third sets after they were dominated in the opener.

"We've seen them twice already this year, so we knew what was coming our way," Palisade coach Wendy MacAskill said. "But even with that, they're hard to stop.

"But I do think we were able to do some things better tonight than the first two times we played them, and … playing a team like this three times in a season is only going to help us."

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Emily Tucker had a team-high eight kills, 16 digs and three aces and Christa Brown had seven kills and three blocks to pace Palisade, which had won eight of its past nine coming into Friday. But the Bulldogs found themselves playing from behind for much of the match after the Devils turned the Bulldogs' hitting errors into long scoring runs.

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That was the case in the second set, as a Palisade serving error sparked a 7-1 Eagle Valley run that gave the Devils a 17-12 lead. Palisade eventually pulled within 24-22 with four consecutive points, but a kill from Eagle Valley's Elyse Fitzpatrick sealed it.

In the third, the Devils went up 5-1 before making a few of their own errors, and an ace from Tucker gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the night at 11-9. Eagle Valley responded, though, getting six kills from Martin during a 14-7 run that put the match out of reach.

"Our passing was a little off tonight, and it didn't allow us to run our offense as efficiently as we'd like to," MacAskill said. "We made some improvements, but (Eagle Valley is) a good team and that's why they're ranked No. 6 in the state."

Eagle Valley returns home on Tuesday to face Grand Valley in nonconference action.