2022 fall prep sports preview: Eagle Valley High School volleyball

Devils look to take next step after finishing as Western Slope League runner-ups in 2021

Eagle Valley was 13-8 and finished as the 4A Western Slope League runner-up in 2021.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

When the 2021 Eagle Valley High School girls volleyball team was running on all cylinders, it was a tough group to slow down. Unfortunately, the engine wasn’t always purring.

A 3-0 win against Palisade, the eventual league champions, was followed up with a loss against Glenwood Springs — who finished the year 10-13 — the next day. The Devils wound up the No. 19 seed in the 4A postseason tournament. They lost to Niwot, a state semifinalist, in the Region 6 tournament.

“Definitely just ran up against a good program,” said head coach Mike Garvey of the way 2021 ended. Garvey has been coaching volleyball in the valley for 26 years, the last five at Eagle Valley (he’s been head coach for just the last three).

“We’re hoping to finish a little higher this year and hope to be the team that’s knocking everyone else off.”  

Garvey’s “senior-heavy” 2021 team will be replaced by a group of players who watched the perennially successful Eagle Valley volleyball culture up-close while honing their skills in the junior varsity ranks.

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“They saw what we did and what our strengths and weaknesses were in all facets of the game, on and off the court, and they are just a great group that looked at that and said, ‘let’s build from there,’” Garvey explained of his incoming squad. 

“This team wants to take a step further from last year’s team.” 

The forward focus has instigated individual and team development throughout the offseason.

“They’re believers. When we come in and discuss the next steps we need to take, they’re all in on the process,” Garvey explained.

“They’re very excited about who they can become and very excited just to play with each other.”

Senior starting setter C.J. Yucak and junior Talia Crawford return after posting significant minutes on varsity last year.

“They’re the ones that have the experience,” said Garvey. Junior Ava Geiman and senior Christi San Diego are two other returners who also received varsity reps.

“But we’re really excited about our up-and-coming players, too,” Garvey reiterated.

“Even though we technically lost a lot of people off the varsity roster, we’re bringing in quite a few skilled players.”

Eagle Valley High School volleyball last 10 seasons

2021: 13-8

2020: 10-3

2019: 13-11

2018: 13-11

2017: 16-8

2016: 22-5

2015: 17-8

2014: 20-5

2013: 15-9

2012: 5-17

The team’s summer training got rolling in July with the UNC team camp. Garvey brought 27 players to the Greeley campus to play against 150 other teams. Later in the month, he brought 18 to CSU’s team camp.

“It’s a great experience,” he said of the offseason tournaments.

“They do a great job of learning at the camp and we see growth even over the summer. That gives us a great starting point to come in during the season.”

Garvey has a feeling this team will gel quickly.

“They’re very excited about who they can become and very excited just to play with each other,” he said.

“I think it’s a group that really enjoys the game. Doesn’t get too upset with the wins and losses categories, and yet wants to do well, so I love their mindset.” 

The Devil’s best finish in recent memory was Shawn Weatherred’s 2010 team, which boasted a 27-3 record, 12-0 league record and a state semifinal appearance. The team’s goal for 2022 is less focused on the standings according to Garvey.

2022 regular season schedule

Aug. 25: vs. Grand Junction Central, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 2: neutral vs. Ponderosa (tournament in Parker), 9:00 a.m.

Sept 2: TBD (tournament in Parker), 11:00 a.m.

Sept. 3: TBD (tournament in Parker)

Sept. 8: vs. Palisade, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 10: at Steamboat Springs

Sept. 13: vs. Summit, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 20: vs. Glenwood Springs, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 22: at Battle Mountain, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 27: vs. Steamboat Springs, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 1: vs. Montrose, 1:00 p.m.

Oct. 4: at Summit, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 13: at Palisade, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 18: vs. Battle Mountain, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 20: at Aspen, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 25: vs. Fruita Monument, 6:30 p.m.

*Bold denotes non-league matchups

“They have a big mission to develop relationships,” Garvey said.

“I think it says a lot about who they are that they want to treat each other well and want everyone to feel as if they’re being treated well.”

Unlike some outcome-based goals, Garvey senses this target is one fully in his team’s power to achieve.

“I think sometimes when you talk about goals — whether it’s wins or losses or getting to state — not all of the factors are in your control, but this goal they’ve set is in their control,” Garvey said.

Multi-sport senior C.J. Yurcak returns to lead the Devils in 2022.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

League Landscape

Garvey is one of the most experienced coaches, along with Wendy Hall at Steamboat Springs and Wendy MacAskill at Palisade, in the 4A Western Slope League. The three have decades of combined experience.

“We know they’re going to be competitive,” Garvey said of the Sailors and Bulldogs. On the flip side, Glenwood Springs and Summit will both be under brand new leadership.

“Summit has a lot of younger kids and if they get the right coach, I think they’re going to make a big change in their program — and I feel the same about Glenwood,” Garvey said of the landscape of the rest of the league.

“Sometimes kids get motivated around the right person and that can be the difference.”

In addition to the league matchups outside of the Vail Valley, Sept. 22 and Oct. 18 will be dates the whole volleyball community is sure to circle on the schedule as well.

“Battle Mountain is such a rivalry,” Garvey said of the two matchups against the Huskies.

“Every time we play them, you can kind of throw everything else out. That’s the big fan game — there’s the nerves — so that’s always competitive.”

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