Battle Mountain makes semiﬁnals
DENVER Someone forgot to close the door, and in stormed the Battle Mountain volleyball team Saturday at the 4A state playoffs.The Huskies came into the day at 0-2 in the tournament and ended the day going point for point with eventual 4A state champion Sterling in the semifinals.At the beginning of the day, the thought never crossed my mind, said coach Brian Doyon on his teams improbable resurgence.After a disappointing first day at state riddled by mistakes and misfortune, the Huskies did just about everything right Saturday.The girls had confidence in themselves, Doyon said. We started playing our game, and the more we got on a roll, the more we built on it.We came into the day, and there was a low spirit, but we realized we had another chance, said Crystin Rodrick. We told each other, Lets take this opportunity and do something.Battle Mountain wasted little time in crushing Glenwood Springs, 25-21, 25-20, 25-16, in what was the rubber match for the two teams this season.We got right down to business, Doyon said. We only had a couple of errors and didnt give Glenwood Springs the opportunity to capitalize on much.After coming from behind to beat the Demons in a one-game playoff, the Huskies faced Sterling in the semifinals.In the first game, the Huskies downed the Tigers, 25-22, becoming the first and only team in the tournament and the third team all year to win a game from Sterling. In the end, however, the Tigers were too much for the Huskies to handle, and Battle Mountain fell, 22-25, 25-15, 26-24, 25-22.I was happy after beating Glenwood, ecstatic after beating them again, and then to stay tight with Sterling, something none of the teams in their pool could do, wow, Doyon said. Math and momentumEven after beating Glenwood Springs in pool play, the Huskies needed Mountain View to beat Cheyenne Mountain to force a three-team playoff that would determine the second-place team in the pool.With Huskies cheering on Mountain View, the Mountain Lions downed the Indians in four games.Battle Mountain, having the best winning percentage among the three 1-2 teams in its pool, received a bye and waited for the winner of a one-game playoff between Cheyenne Mountain and Glenwood Springs.As luck would have it, the Huskies once again drew the Demons. The two teams traded points until Glenwood Springs pulled ahead, 23-19, and Doyon called a timeout.I knew we had to keep our attacking going, Doyon said. I told (setter) Britney Brown that we just needed hittable balls, either in the front row or the back row. She did a phenomenal job of getting the ball to our hitters.Rodrick and Sofia Lindroth, who had seven and six kills in the game, respectively, came through with hits that the Demons could only watch pass them by.When we were down, I was thinking, we cant lose like this, but somehow we got it point by point, Rodrick said.And it wouldnt have happened had the Huskies not blocked Glenwood Springs big hitter Leah Hinkey.They didnt have a right-side block, so we doubled and tripled up on the middle, Doyon said. Nicole Penwill and Devon Abbott did a great job, and Sydney Nichols and Sofia Lindroth did a great job of counteracting them.The Huskies were down to their last shot of the season, trailing the Demons 24-23, but after two Rodrick kills, the Huskies had the Demons on their heels.We were so focused, said Abbott And we have this whole rivalry with Glenwood Springs which gives and gives us more of a motive to play well.On the final play of the game, Brown dove to the floor for a dig, and two hits later, Lindroth crushed the ball for the win. Dismantling the DemonsUnlike the one-game playoff, the pool-play match between Battle Mountain and Glenwood Springs was one-sided.Its a sweet feeling to know that every person on the court wanted it and didnt give Glenwood a chance to catch up, Penwill said.Everything that had gone wrong on Friday went right for the Huskies against the Demons.I didnt think there was a way for us to have two bad days back-to-back, said Doyon. Everybody at every point was taking care of their job. Our front row put up a consistent block, which gave our passers the ability to pass the ball.Abbott led the Huskies with nine blocks, Brown had four, and Penwill had three.You see that they have two big hitters, so you know what to look for, Penwill said.Both Hickey and Leanna Lawson had 10 kills for the Demons. For the Huskies the kills were spread out as such: Lindroth, 12; Rodrick, 10; Brown, seven; Penwill, five; Nichols, five and Abbott, four.I would look to see the block in front of me, and try to hit around it, said Lindroth, who ended the match with one of her kills. Do you believe?Friday night, Battle Mountain athletic director Rich Houghton sent a card to each hotel room the Huskies were staying in that said I believe in you.He wasnt the only one.This tournament was a true testament of how great their character is, Doyon said of his team. After Friday, there was no finger pointing, they just said as a team, Well stick together.Against Sterling, the Huskies played some of their best ball all year.It was an amazing team performance, Doyon said. We were playing well enough on defense to frustrate them.But Sterlings offense found ways to break through the Battle Mountain blockers, and evade any bumps.We didnt do anything bad all game, Doyon said. Sterling is a phenomenal team.Even with Sterling pulling away in the third and fourth games, Battle Mountain continued to do what it had done all day fight until the last ball.In the third game, the Huskies trailed 19-13, came back to tie the game at 23 and fended off a match point at 24-23, before falling in extra points. Then, down 20-11 in the fourth game, the Huskies closed the gap to 23-21, and 24-22.Usually Im a sore loser, but I was happy with that loss, Rodrick said. We played extremely well, and they were just the better team.At 24-6, the Huskies are tied for the third best team in the state.I think we needed Friday for a learning experience, Doyon said. Friday, we went from Mount Everest to the abyss. And today, we went from good to great. Sports writer Ian Cropp can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 949-0555 ext. 14631.