Is this the year of the Eagle Valley Devil? | VailDaily.com

Is this the year of the Eagle Valley Devil?

BMEV Lassa Barker PU 9-16-08

When it comes to fall sports, there is one team which should shine above all the rest.

Eagle Valley volleyball.

The Devils are the two-time defending Slope champions. They won districts last year, having hosted the tourney the last two seasons. They were one win from making the state tournament.

Eagle Valley returns all-leaguers Becka VanVoorst, Alex Lassa, Shelby Wright as well as honorable mention winner Dailen Culver, among a cast of many.

This team is loaded. Eagle Valley should make it three in a row in the 4A Slope. The question is whether the Devils make it to the Coliseum in November.

Yeah, those would be high expectations, ones not seen since, say, August 2006, when the Battle Mountain started making its run to a state title.

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Comparing these teams is not fair – every team is different – nor is it possible. After all, how do you compare Devils coach Shawn Weatherred and his then-counterpart at Battle Mountain, Brian Doyon? That’s a funny thought – laid-back guy vs. drill sergeant. Apples and oranges doesn’t do it justice.

What is helpful in the historical comparison is that Devils need to play at their own level and not according to the scoreboard during the regular season. There will be occasional challenges from within the league. The team plays some good nonconference squads like Montrose and Grand Junction Central.

This is going to be all about playing the team’s established standards. Weatherred has shown he’s very capable of keeping his team’s eye on the prize. For all his aww-shucks talk which is required with winning the Slope’s Coach of the Year last season, he’s knows how to do this.

Follow this team. This is going to be fun.

Battle Mountain

The previous 10 inches of copy should provide ample bulletin-board material in Edwards. The Huskies had their first losing season since 2003 last year, which surprisingly did not mark the end of the world as we know it.

As we saw with Battle Mountain from 2005-07 and now with Eagle Valley, everything goes in cycles in high school sports. Like her fellow Vail Mountain alumnus in soccer Slade Cogswell, Lara “Tree” Bossow starts Year 2 at the helm.

Battle Mountain volleyball should have a little less backstage drama this year, which is always a good thing. What the Huskies need to do on the court is develop the knowledge that they can compete with most teams in the Slope.

The Huskies were in games last season. This year, they have to develop a killer instinct.

This is a good program with a good coach. The future is bright.

Vail Christian

After all the strum and drang of whether Vail Christian was going to remain open, we get to more simple things, say, like defending a league title. The Saints were the surprise of last year’s fall season going from also-rans to Slope champs in only their second season at the 2A level.

Brooke Bowles and Beri Dwyer gradated, so the challenge is to fill in those front spots. The foundation in Edwards is very good, though. This fall’s juniors are about as good as they come with Ashlyn Gruber, Kylie Alexander, McKenzie O’Brien and so on.

And now to tick off coach Cathy Alexander. While I expect to see the Saints contend for the 2A Slope, don’t forget that Vail Christian drops down to 1A for the postseason. Since the ladies made 2A regionals last year as an under-sized school at that classification, don’t be surprised if they end up on the floor of the Denver Coliseum on Court 1 for the 1A state tournament.

Vail Mountain

Here’s a fun one, who’s the most-tenured coach for fall sports at the Vail Mountain School? That would be Mike Garvey (14 years) and he coaches a sport called volleyball.

Soccer does rule the fall in East Vail with the omnipresence of Bob Bandoni (and much accompanying muttering about all things Boston. Hello, Shaq.) But people might want to stick their heads inside the gym to check out a pretty good volleyball team.

One of the few disappointments last fall was that we really didn’t get to see VMS volleyball in full until districts. Remember we had the whole H1N1 thing going around, so if anyone had any signs of anything resembling the flu, they went home. As a result, the Gore Rangers were a .500 club for most of the regular season.

Once healthy, they won the district title and a berth in 2A regionals for the first time in school history.

Yep, they had eight seniors graduate. That said, volleyball is no longer an foreign activity done in a dimly-lit gym in East Vail. There’s a feeder program and a tradition at VMS. The Vail Blue Rivalry games against Vail Christian will be fun and could well have league-title ramifications.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.