Battle Mountain downs Saints in three |

Battle Mountain downs Saints in three

Expect more local rivalry games, like Battle Mountain at Vail Christian, under the new system of rating-percentage index (RPI) for postseason qualification. Since overall record, and not size of school, counts toward RPI, more games are likely on tap among Battle Mountain Eagle Valley, Vail Christian and Vail Mountain.
Justin Q. McCarty | Daily file photo |

EDWARDS — Things went according to form when Battle Mountain volleyball called on Vail Christian on Wednesday night at the Wheeler Athletic Center in Edwards.

As expected, the 4A Huskies swept the 2A Saints 25-18, 25-23, 25-20. But, more important than the result, both teams got what they wanted out of this match.

“Our job as a varsity program is to play the best match as we can,” Huskies coach Jason Fitzgerald said. “If we’re doing that, it gives us an opportunity to put the young ones in.”

So say hello to Abby Davidson, who got the last point of the match among several others. Jessica Sullivan and Lindsay Sierant got major playing time and freshman Lily DeMuth made her varsity debut.

Usual role players like Jessica Cuomo and Malia Barco also got more into the flow of the rotation.

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While the Huskies (7-1) eye the postseason with the hopes of fielding their top players, one never knows who twists an ankle between now and regionals. It’s also key, in the long run, to get the younger players some varsity time because they will be varsity regulars shortly.

What to do

Vail Christian (6-2) needed to see a faster, more powerful style of volleyball.

“It’s awesome to be able to do that,” Saints coach Cathy Alexander said. “Quite frankly with the way our league is set up now, we have six extra games. But you don’t see that in the 1A and 2A until you get to state, and then, you’re like, ‘What do I do with this?’”

As Saints fans know, the “What do I do with this” moment usually comes against Fleming on the floor of the Denver Coliseum, and that doesn’t end well.

While Battle Mountain was in control the whole match, Brittney Bossow got a block on the first point of the match, a good omen.

The Saints did have issues catching up with the Huskies’ speed, but Vail Christian extended the second game to 25-23.

“It took them two games to adjust,” Alexander said. “Battle Mountain hits at the same spot every single time. They hit cross-court in the same spot within three feet every single time. I was like, ‘Stand right here.’ When they did that, they started digging the balls, which was nice. They did everything they could to get the dug ball in the court so we could get the ball back over.”

In the process, Saints sophomore Bianca Valenzuela had some prime moments, as did Sara Coulter in the third.

Meanwhile, Battle Mountain, as it does every other year, had a bit of an adjustment playing in the Saints’ gym. It’s not that the court isn’t regulation-sized, but the overall structure is smaller, and that makes serving interesting for the Huskies.

“It’s just a perception. It’s a nice, tight gym,” Fitzgerald said. “The crowd’s right on top of you, which we love. It does take some time.”

All in all it was a fun evening as both teams’ fan bases packed the gym.

“It’s a fun rival game we have because we all know each other,” the Huskies’ Emily Clinton said. “There’s adrenaline from the crowd and the cheers. It’s fun. I look forward to this every year.”

Both teams return to league play on Friday. The Saints get their first look at West Grand in Kremmling, while the Huskies host Delta at 5:30 p.m.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, and @cfreud.

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