Vail Christian upsets Vail Mountain in four |

Vail Christian upsets Vail Mountain in four

Saints beat Gore Rangers for first time in four years

Vail Christian's Abby Kuhns sets the ball against Vail Mountain School on Tuesday in East Vail. The Saints pulled the upset in four games.
Chris Dillmann | Special to the Daily

VAIL — Vail Christian volleyball didn’t have a chance against the Vail Mountain School on Tuesday night. The Gore Rangers are coming off a state appearance. The Saints are still rebuilding with a new coach, so you know how this script is going to go.

And that, boys and girls, is why you play the game. Perhaps extending the Chris Berman analogy too far, nobody circles the wagons like the Vail Christian Saints?

Yes, too far, but Vail Christian pulled off the stunner at VMS, 25-14, 25-23, 19-2, 25-16. The last time the Saints beat the Gore Rangers was 2015, and Cathy Alexander was the coach. We remember a few details about her, and we’re pretty sure she’s pumped that the Baylor Bears top the NCAA volleyball polls.

Vail Christian’s Gracie Allen passes the ball against Vail Mountain School on Tuesday. The Saints beat the Gore Rangers for the first time since 2015.

“It’s one of the most amazing feelings ever,” Saints senior Mari Engleby said. “We weren’t expected to win today. To come in and win today the way we did, we just worked well together as a team.”

“Huge rivalry win. The girls came ready to win tonight,” Vail Christian coach Adina Petersmeyer said. “They’ve been playing good volleyball, but we knew we needed to work hard. Our zero missed serves in the last game gave us all the confidence in the world. I’m really, really pleased with the type of volleyball we played.”

How’d it happen?

Part of it is the Eternal Principal of High School Sports, which states that getting 10-20 high schoolers on the same page is easier said than done. As is said in the 1970 movie “Little Big Man,” “Sometimes the magic works. Sometimes it doesn’t.”

This is what makes high school sports fun to watch as a spectator while simultaneously aging a coach 10 years over the course of a three-month season.

Vail Mountain School’s Payton Connolly taps the ball over the net against Vail Christian Tuesday in East Vail.
Chris Dillmann |

“We came in with an interesting mental state today,” Vail Mountain School coach Whitney Armistead said. “We came out of a tough weekend at the Battle Mountain tournament. We were trying to fix things from last weekend and then we had a hard time adjusting to what was coming over the net today. It was like two different mindsets colliding.”

The Gore Rangers came out with a little too much pop. They overhit on a lot of swings which turned into Saints’ points.

Give Vail Christian a lot of credit, though. The Saints have been through a lot, dating back to 0-for-2017. After an 0-4 start this season, they could have been forgiven for thinking, “Oh, no, here we go again.”

Instead, the Saints have rallied to win six of their last 10.

While the Gore Rangers’ miscues led to the Saints winning Game 1, Vail Christian established its style in Game 2, neutralizing VMS power with tenacious digs led by libero Brooke Layman and the defense

The Saints’ Kendelle Smith and Engleby were providing quite the 1-2 punch as Vail Christian worked its way to a 2-0 lead. VMS did answer by getting up the block again Smith stymieing her a few times on the way to snagging Game 3.

Vail Mountain School’s Skye Karsh goes for the ball Tuesday in East Vail.
Chris Dillmann |

But the Saints had the momentum and dispatched the Gore Rangers easily in the fourth for a big win.

“It’s so exciting, especially being a senior,” Layman said. “Having this experience definitely feels good.”

Next up

Both squads leave Tuesday’s game with a mission. Vail Christian has to be feeling good about its recent surge. The Saints have momentum going into matches against Golden View Classical Academy and DeBeque this weekend.

Meanwhile, VMS needs to regroup. Coach Armistead said that this week could be pivotal as to what the Gore Rangers make of the rest of their season.

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