Beware the Saints spikers
EDWARDS – Dormats, no more.Vail Christian volleyball literally came out of nowhere last year. The Saints were 1-15 and 2002 and came within two games of going to state in 2003. With eight players returning from that surprising team, there are good vibes at St. Clare in Edwards for the upcoming season.”I think they’ll be looking for us this year,” Saints coach Cathy Alexander said. “But sometimes, people think, ‘Oh, it’s just a fluke. They can’t do it again.’ But, I do think with we made a name for us last year. There is a a little bit of an expectation.””People say how we were a surprising team,” senior middle blocker Rachel Glandorf said. “We see how they’re playing too. So, they’re not going to surprise us. It kind of goes both ways because now we know how to play against them. We know what works against them.”Super settersWhile hitters like Glandorf draw all the oohs and aahs, in volleyball, it all starts with the setters. Pardon the expression, but the Saints are very well served in that position. Both Lauren Mutter and Nicole Parker return, giving Vail Christian consistency and leadership.
“It’s fabulous. They’re learning every year. We’re past the learning stage. We’re more into how to mentally make it work. So, the girls are great,” Alexander said. “They know the setters. Lauren and Rachel have been together for four years. They’re only getting better because of each other.”And, it’s no coincidence that Mutter and Parker are the team’s co-captains for that reason.”Basically, it depends on our pass,” Mutter said. “If we get a good pass, we can set it anywhere. We know how everyone likes our sets, so we try to get it there.”Speaking of getting it there, the liberos for the Saints are Molly Brooks and Karlie Peterson.Big hittersIt hasn’t really sunk in,” Glandorf said on being a senior. “It’s so nice, though. All the freshmen are scared of us.”
Well, that’s because the youngsters are on the receiving end of Glandorf’s kills in practice. You’d be scared, too.Glandorf, all-league in both volleyball and basketball as well as a two-time, state-track medalist, is back for her fourth year. The 1A Mountain League is not happy about this development.”She’s just a fabulous all-around athlete,” Alexander said. “She’s fun and she wants to improve. She doesn’t ever think she’s got it yet, so there’s always room for improvement, which makes her a better player. That’s what’s so neat about this group. There all there. All of them want to improve.”Glandorf leads a bunch of big hitters for the Saints. Meghan Struve and Kristin McGinty join Glandorf at middle blocker. Vail Christian adds Jessica Sulmeister, a sophomore transfer from Eagle Valley, mid-season after she sits out nine games, according to CHSAA rules.Outside are Bradie Beagley, Kaley Hagerman, Jackie Parker and Brittani Beagley.Three for two spots
Conventional wisdom is that it will be a three-way dogfight for the league title and two regional spots between Vail Christian, VMS and DeBeque. Of course, conventional wisdom got thrown out the window with the Saints’ run last year.”There were not that many seniors in the league last year,” Alexander said. “It’s always tough. DeBeque’s got tradition. They play real scrappy. Vail Mountain School is a rival. I think Ouray and Ridgway stack up the same. Everybody can be dangerous.”Assuming that a Ridgway or a Ouray doesn’t pop into the picture, games against the Dragons (home on Sept. 28 and away on Oct. 26) and the Gore Rangers (both “home” Sept. 14 and Oct. 21) loom large.But after coming so close to a trip to Denver last year, Vail Christian has lofty goals in 2004.”I always go one match at a time,” Alexander said. “Sure, I’d love to say, ‘Yes.’ It really is (a possibility to go to state). It’s a matter of how we pull it all together. The girls have the talent and they have the skill. It’s just a matter of mental toughness.”Chris Freud is the sports editor of the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614, or via firstname.lastname@example.org.