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Battle Mountain rallies to beat Rifle

David L'Heureux

EAGLE-VAIL – At the beginning of their games, the Battle Mountain volleyball chants, “One, two, threeSTeam.”

That chant would be the theme of the day for the Huskies Saturday, as they overcame a 2-0 deficit in their hard-fought match to beat a tough Rifle squad 3-2 (23-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-22, 15-9).

All of the games were very close, and the long rallies frequent and furious. But the majority of the bounces and, more importantly, the tips, were going the Bears’ way in the first two games.

Rifle was employing a strategy of tipping the ball on many of their opportunities at net, and doing so very effectively.

“It’s the same thing they did to us last time,” said Battle Mountain coach Brian Doyon, whose team had beaten Rifle 3-1 in a match earlier this season. “They’d call time out and then they’d come out tipping. So, the big thing I wanted my girls to do was to continue to swing away and play their game, and they did.”

The Huskies followed that strategy, but the tips were falling for Rifle, and Battle Mountain continued to make unforced errors at the net and on its serves to allow the Bears to win the first two games.

The Bears, up to that point, had been led by the net play of Montanah Mattheis, who had six solo blocks, and A.J. Connolly, who had seven kills and as many aces, and the passing and all-around play of senior Lauren Pleva.

“A.J. had a great game for us today,” said Rifle coach Victoria DiGuglielmo. “So did Lauren Pleva, she really led us on defense. She has really stepped it up this year with her defense and passing.”

From there, though, a team effort by Battle Mountain would swing the momentum back the other way. Nichole Lindroth would start things up with her serving and passing, ending the day with seven aces and 17 assists.

Freshman Crystin Rodrick helped anchor the defense with 16 digs, as well as scoring points at the net, finishing the day with the team’s highest-kill percentage. The serves were dropping and the comeback was on at this point, as Battle Mountain held on to the crucial Game 3 victory.

“A big part of our game is serving,” said Doyon. “Getting our serving percentage up made a big difference. It forced the other team to play us more.”

The older Rodrick, Candyce, got her jump serve on track recording 12 points on her 19 serves, and getting 14 digs. Skylar Hand had 3 aces and, along with Senior Amy Oliver, dominated the net on both offense and defense.

The resul was that Battle Mountain would come through and win the all important Game 4, despite the hard, scrappy play of Rifle.

Time for the rubber match. After getting down early in the abbreviated 15-point-final game, the Huskies would take the lead on Candyce Rodrick’s big-kill, 6-5.

They wouldn’t look back from there, as sister Crystin would serve out the game for the 15-9 Huskies victory.

“We played great tonight,” said DiGuglielmo. “But you have to give Battle Mountain credit, because they played hard and fought back and did the things they needed to do to be successful.”

The Huskies, who are now 4-2 in league play, prepare for a tough upcoming road stretch, which will see them play Palisade, Moffatt County and Steamboat, while Rifle gears up for a home match Thursday against Moffatt County.


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