Devils win in five-game thriller | VailDaily.com

Devils win in five-game thriller

Ian Cropp

Shane Macomber/Vail DailyEagle Valley's Michelle Parmenter makes a diving save to keep the ball in play Tuesday against Aspen. The Devils won in five games.

GYPSUM – The Devils know that first wins can be elusive. There was no way, however, Eagle Valley was going to let Aspen steal this victory.In a back-and-forth, five-game match Tuesday, the Devils edged the Skiers, 13-25, 25-23, 25-20, 21-25, 15-11.”I have won a district championship before and this feels just as good,” said Eagle Valley coach Rob Crawford. “To see the girls work with such persistency, was really great.”Both teams were relentless in their attack throughout the match. The Devils led late in the fourth game, 21-18, but Aspen stormed back to force a fifth game. In the final game, the Devils went up 8-3, and then Aspen surged back and tied the game at 11. Eagle Valley then sealed its first victory by winning the next four points.”It was such an intense and exciting match,” said Eagle Valley’s Kellee Hollis. “We didn’t know we were going to win until the very end.”The last game was filled with long rallies and strong defensive play from both sides.

“We want to be a defensive, scrappy team and frustrate the other team,” Crawford said. “Aspen had very good defense and dug up a ton of our hits.”On many points, net players kept the play going by tipping potential kills to back row players. For the Skiers, Page Cottrell seemed to dig up most of the hits the Devils dished out.”We are a small team, and our defense keeps us alive,” said Aspen coach Sara Benson.The Skiers’ serving, however, did not keep them alive.”Our serve was the one thing that hurt us,” Benson said. “We didn’t miss one serve in the first game, but we started to miss them in other games.”In the end, the Devils’ determination was the downfall of the Skiers.”Aspen would dig one of our hits up and get it back to us, but we’d put it away,” Crawford said. “In the past, (other teams) had dug it up and our heads kind of dropped.”

Slow startEagle Valley came out lethargic and unorganized in the first game, and Aspen pounced on the Devils. After a few lineup changes, the Devils regrouped and in the second game came out on fire.”We took over and it was awesome,” said Lyndee Cox. “There was so much energy.”Cox moved to setter, where she helped engineer the Devils’ offense. Eagle Valley won points from all over the court, although a large amount came from the middle.”We finally realized the middle of the court was open, so I told Michelle (Parmenter) to go up like she was going to hit the ball and then tip it,” Crawford said. “She sold the hit, and they were caught still.”The match ended on a tip in the center of the court by Cox.Flanking Parmenter, and others who hit in the middle, were Ryan Wilson and Ashley Farenholtz, who each had big kills.

Pressure cookerThe clutch player of the evening was Aspen’s Connie Luu. At the end of the last three games, Luu brought the Skiers back into the game with strings of winning serves.”It’s a lot of pressure, but I try and block out everything I can,” Luu said.Even with the pressure and the loud Eagle Valley crowd, Luu was perfect on her serves all night, and put a scare in the Devils at the end of the game.”It’s a little unnerving when they came back on us,” Crawford said. “It’s happened where other teams have done it and they’ve won.”The Devils hope to use the momentum from Tuesday’s game to pull out another victory against Rifle at home Thursday. Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or icropp@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado