Battle Mountain topples Vail Christian in three
Those jackets look nice
EDWARDS — Battle Mountain volleyball’s gold jackets are 1-0.
“So. Much. Fun,” said Huskies senior middle-blocker Sofi Petrovsky. “We ran out in bright golden jackets, for goodness sake.”
Battle Mountain did have fun — and those jackets are loud — in a 25-10, 25-17, 25-4 win over Vail Christian in the season opener on Thursday night.
This might be a good time to remember that this was the opening match for both the 4A Huskies and the 2A Saints. Obviously, it’s better to be on the winning side, but a season is not made or lost during the first best-of-5.
Thursday was a good run for both teams, that despite the different classifications, face similar challenges.
“We definitely wanted to compete under a new level of pressure, having fans, friends, and family,” said Huskies coach Jason Fitzgerald, who’s starting his ninth season at Battle Mountain. “(Vail Christian’s) a great program to match up against. They’re rebuilding. Their talent level is coming up. They gave us plenty to work on.”
Youth is served
Both Battle Mountain and Vail Christian are young squads. Yes, the Huskies have five seniors, but in terms of varsity experience, they’re still youthful.
“We’re young at a lot of positions,” Fitzgerald said. “Probably for the first time since our state run (in 2014), we’ve decided to go back to our youth and let the kids play. They were the strength of our tryout.”
The Huskies got rolling early, erasing a 4-0 early Saints lead in Game 1. McKenzie Clyncke, Delany Gersbach and Drea Pedersen served Battle Mountain out to a 16-7 advantage. For those of you keeping score, that’s a junior, a sophomore and a junior.
In the second set, the Huskies’ offense got in gear. Petrovski got her blocks and her tips, while Tatum Huffman, another familiar name, started swinging.
Huffman, now a senior, put away three straight points to make it 21-13, all but putting away the second stanza.
Game 3 was a rout. Emma Judge served 14 straight points for the Huskies who were on their way.
The Huskies often live by Fitzgerald-isms — “senior varsity effort” is one. Thursday’s was “Control the tempo.”
“We need to focus on our half of the net,” Fitzgerald said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Berry Creek or China on the other side, we’ve got to make sure we’re playing the style and the tempo of game we want to play. Whether we’re leading by five (points) or trailing by five, we should be able to compose ourselves.”
“If we stay play slow mentally, but play fast physically, we’re going to have success,” Petrovsky said.
Positives for Saints
And it’s no different at Vail Christian. The Saints have all of four seniors and need play their game as well.
Vail Christian’s fans saw snatches of good play with junior Kendelle Smith with some solid attacks, while libero Brooke Layman dug some fierce Battle Mountain strikes.
The Saints struggled with communication, too often having two players at the same spot for the same ball, as well as serving.
“We have a strong offense when we’re passing well,” Vail Christian head coach Adina Petersmeyer said. “I think we’re going to be effective with our serve this season. We’re an aggressive serving team. We just need to settle down a bit.”
It’s worth noting that there is a method to the madness in the 2A Saints playing the 4A Huskies. Not only does it save on gas mileage, but Battle Mountain provides much more of a challenge than Vail Christian will see in its league slate later this season.
Vail Christian is at Lake County tonight, while Battle Mountain is at Vail Mountain on Tuesday. If you have a Huskies schedule with a game on Saturday at Elizabeth, that’s been moved to Sept. 10.
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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.