Battle Mountain opens with win vs. Saints
EDWARDS — Battle Mountain volleyball definitely wasn’t exhausted by the trip.
The Huskies managed the 3-mile journey down U.S. Highway 6 and took care of Vail Christian, 25-16, 25-16, 25-8, on Thursday, Aug. 23, at the Wheeler Athletic Center in the season opener for both teams.
“This year, we’ve definitely emphasized being a little hungrier per play per ball. I felt like we showed good tenacity,” Huskies coach Jason Fitzgerald said. “Starting with our neighbor is always a treat. The bus ride was quick and clean. It’s fun to play against some friends who are competitive. I feel like they’re very improved. I like seeing us being hungry.”
Feeding the beast
With Ava Spangler assuming the new role of setter for the Huskies, Thursday night was the first go at running the offense.
“It just depends on the pass,” Spangler said. “If we get a good free-ball pass, we run our free-ball offense as fast as we can for the kill. It takes a little bit of time for everybody’s arm to get warm.”
While Fitzgerald says he has a few more contenders for the front-row rotation, the basic idea is get the ball to Lillian Benway, Eleanor Sheahan and Tatum Huffman and let them eat.
On Thursday, Benway showed she still hits the ball with great force. While Huffman wasn’t in the action as much as she probably would like, Sheahan had big night. It’s not hard to see these three taking alternate starring roles throughout the season.
One thing the Huskies want to work on is keeping the foot on the gas pedal.
“We definitely want to make sure we’re controlling the runs of points,” Fitzgerald said. “Tonight, we would get on a nice run, ease off and let Vail Christian back in. Momentum is such a killer in this sport.”
Saints building up
Give credit to Vail Christian for a bit on that count. The Saints, who were winless last fall, gave Battle Mountain a fight during the first two sets.
“We definitely played great defense, which is huge for us,” Vail Christian coach Lisa Bradley said. “That’s a big difference from last year. Serves killed us. But, overall the kids played phenomenal.”
The coach was right on serving. The Saints had 10 serving errors in the first two sets alone — five in each game. Serving errors happen when a team serves aggressively, but Vail Christian was giving away points with that many miscues.
That the 2A Saints while working on a new offense — a three-middle — were still able to play with the 4A Huskies for two sets bodes well. Vail Christian heads to Gilpin County High School on Friday, Aug. 24, to play Caliche.
Meanwhile Battle Mountain hosts Elizabeth on Saturday, Aug. 25.
“It will be a good challenge,” Benway said. “We’ve got to stay together and united as a team and play the best we can on Saturday.”
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.