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Again?

Daily file photoChris Freud
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What we’re seeing with Battle Mountain and Vail Christian volleyball is not normal.

We provide this message as a service to the Huskies and Saints fans of the younger generation. Your volleyball team going to state seemingly every year does not happen at every high school in Colorado.

And it is certainly not commonplace in Eagle-Vail and Edwards.

The only time we’ve seen anything like this locally has been when the Huskies qualified for the 2A state tournament ” then in Fort Collins ” three times between 1979 and 1982. As for the Saints, we’re in completely uncharted waters.

Back, back, back

Let’s go into the Chris Freud Wayback Machine.

When I started here, Battle Mountain was a pretty good 3A team and what was Vail Christian? I was assigned to cover Battle Mountain and “the private school up in Vail that has a soccer team.” Vail Mountain had a volleyball team in 1997 with a new coach. His name was Mike something. I think he was a Cowboys fan.

Battle Mountain essentially joined Vail Christian in volleyball oblivion when the former moved up to 4A. Huskies volleyball was not for the faint of heart. They went 0-12 their first two years in the Slope. (Please note, there were only 12 league games because Eagle Valley was still 3A. Battle Mountain also lost to the Devils in nonleague play for good measure.)

When Battle Mountain finally won its first league game against Glenwood Springs, the Demons fired their coach the next day. I’m not kidding. This really happened.

Meanwhile, Vail Christian struggled mightily starting a program. To be honest, we didn’t bother covering Saints games. I take that back. There was one exception ” Vail Mountain vs. Vail Christian, and the Gore Rangers were listed first for a reason. Coach what’s-his-name had built VMS into a 1A power.

Lara Bossow, Maggie Haslee, Julia Littman, Tiffany Allen and eventually three other freshmen with Mike Garvey ruled the roost, going to state twice. While the Saints struggled for league wins, the twice-annual meetings with VMS did not constitute a rivalry. One time, VMS won a game from the Saints, 15-0 (sideout scoring was used then) with Allen serving 15 straight points.

Winning a Homecoming game against Lutheran of the Rockies ” now known as Lutheran Parker ” was cause for celebration.

A Vail Christian Homecoming win is not surprising now ” it’s pretty much expected ” and the Saints-Gore Rangers is very much a rivalry with the former doormats now holding the edge. It’s actually more of a story when Battle Mountain doesn’t win a 4A Slope game.

And then …

All this on its own would make the Huskies and Saints a remarkable story. Then, there’s what these two teams have experienced this year.

The Huskies had Herculean-sized shoes to fill. What do you do next when last year’s team goes 30-1 and rolls to a state title? You just can’t match at team that had essentially four Division I players. Of course, opponents didn’t care that the Huskies were a different team in 2007. They were still playing the defending state champions, if in name only.

The Huskies have ended up making their own name for themselves, winning the league again and going 7-1 in the postseason. They’ve overcome expectations, a concussion for Kori Landauer and some ridiculous travel. (Note to CHSAA: We told you so before the Region D Tournament, but why was Pueblo West hosting when the Cyclones went 0-3?)

After the Saints graduated only one player from last year’s team, we all expected them to return to the Coliseum. Doing so was another matter. It just isn’t as easy as Vail Christian made it look at times.

And then you add in the Jamie Allen issue. While I won’t turn the Saints’ season into a TV movie of the week, it can’t be ignored. Vail Christian has stayed focused and let its volleyball do the talking, the best way of coping with this on the public stage. I don’t think many other teams could have done that.

The Huskies and Saints have accomplished a lot to get to this stage when playing during the second week of November is expected. We should celebrate that and take a few moments to smell the roses.

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


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