Battle Mountain tops Devils in four sets
EDWARDS — Yes, Battle Mountain volleyball coach Jason Fitzgerald will be played by Danny Glover in the made-for-television movie.
“I’m getting too old for this,” the coach said during the fourth set of his team’s match against Eagle Valley in Edwards on Wednesday.
Of course, there will be a sequel — Oct. 24 in Gypsum, presumably without Mel Gibson — but the Huskies won Round 1 of the Eagle County rivalry on the court, 19-25, 25-21, 25-17, 28-26 over Eagle Valley.
“We definitely wanted to know if we belonged in the upper echelon of the league, which I think we do,” Fitzgerald said. “I do think (Eagle Valley is) a phenomenal team that hits unbelievably well. This is going to be a fun ride now.”
The Huskies pulled into a first place tie atop the 4A Slope with the Devils at 4-1, while both Delta and Steamboat Springs are sitting at 3-1.
In the meantime, Wednesday was a huge shot in the arm for Battle Mountain, which has won three straight a mere eight days after a disheartening loss to Vail Christian in nonconference play.
“We get really nervous, for sure, but we know we have each other and play for each other,” Huskies senior Avery Weaver said. “As long as we keep our energy up, we can do anything.”
DECISIVE FOURTH GAME
Anything and everything happened in the fourth game. The Devils seemed intent on sending the match to a fifth and deciding game, leading 22-18.
“We took a timeout and talked about the pressure,” Fitzgerald said. “It was on them. Win or lose that set, we’re still playing. We knew if we could get it a little tighter, we knew the pressure would be on them.”
Appropriately enough, the Huskies’ rally began with a block — Abby Davidson and Timaree McKenny — on the Devils’ Carlee Morrison.
“They out-blocked us, for sure,” Devils coach Lindsey Myers said. “So we need to figure out a way to hit around them. I think they just outplayed us in their house, and that’s what most teams do. We’re going to bring them into our house and see what happens.”
Both teams’ strategy was rather simple from there — get the ball to their big hitters. For Battle Mountain, that would be Jordan Brandt, who smashed down two points. Weaver pulled the Huskies even at 22.
Two Morrison strikes put Eagle Valley up 24-22, and on the brink of a fifth game. But the Huskies pulled even at 24, and the two teams were tied at 25 and 26 before Brandt crushed another feed and Lilly DeMuth served up a good one for the final point.
After Battle Mountain went nuts, Myers said that the rivalry affected her team too much.
“When they realized in the second set that this is our rivalry, that’s when it set in,” Myers said. “That’s when it got in their head. They came into it really strong in the sense that they didn’t let the rivalry come into play until that second set. They knew it was just another game.”
Both teams need to realize that they’ve just played Game No. 5 of 14 Slope games. Eagle Valley hosts Delta on Saturday in another showdown, while Battle Mountain is at both Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs next week.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.