Devils can’t find high gear
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM ” Eagle Valley volleyball took a visit to the lost-and-found box Saturday in its match against Steamboat Springs.
Following a tight loss in the opening game, the Devils picked up some momentum in a second-game win. But late in the third game, the momentum disappeared and the Sailors came out on top, 25-22, 25-27, 25-20, 25-16.
All was not lost for the Devils, however.
“We found a middle (hitter) today,” Eagle Valley coach Rob Crawford said. “Kacey Bair. She put on her game face and had a lot of blocks for us and that’s a part of the game we’ve really been missing. What a difference it makes.”
Bair stuffed up the middle, particularly during the second game, in which the Devils had nine total blocks and fended off two game points to come back and top the Sailors.
“It felt like we got over a hurdle,” Crawford said.
But Steamboat found its groove as the match progressed and Eagle Valley committed too many unforced errors to afford itself a chance.
“I felt both teams started a little flat,” said Steamboat coach Wendy Hall. “It felt a little bit like a Saturday scrimmage for a little bit. At some point in the third game, we stepped it up a notch and started playing better and that stuff snowballs in a hurry.”
The Sailors’ Katy Gary came off the bench and had a team-high eight kills, while Bair, who gave the Steamboat defense a ton of trouble, had a game-high nine.
“We were late on how many of those swings?” Hall said of Bair’s quick-set attacks. “We at least finally started making some touches on it and were able to control the pass.”
Bair got some solid feeds from Devils setters Whitney VanVoorst and Shelby Wright, who both benefited from well-placed passes off the arms of Allissa Hollis.
Eagle Valley had trouble stringing together long rallies as its servers ” in search of the perfect strike ” often ended up short or long.
“There is a really fine line,” Crawford said. “Steamboat is a good ball control team ” they pass it very well and they have a good setter. You have to serve tougher than we serve, but when we start serving tougher, we start to push the ball out of bounds. I’d rather let them make the mistake, but when we serve it out, we don’t give them a chance to make a mistake.”
On defense, the Devils did a good job of preventing Steamboat setter Colleen King from picking up kills.
“We knew she was a left-handed setter who liked to hit the ball,” Crawford said. “I think she only got one, maybe two kills out of us.”
VanVoorst, on the other hand, burned the Sailors for several tips and pounded a few kills, too. Eagle Valley outside hitter Whitney Wright had eight kills, while Ashley Rowheder came off the bench for some kills.
As Steamboat built a lead in the final game, the Devils didn’t help their own cause with errors coming from a lack of communication.
“Our energy on the court is a self-defeating energy when we get down a little bit,” Crawford said. “It’s almost like we expect to be there. And we shouldn’t. We’re a better team than that. We have to work on coming together as a team better; and on every play, not just before and after the game.
Crawford also hopes to cut down on the number of balls that hit the floor on the Eagle Valley side of the net.
“We’re not moving fast enough around the court,” he said. “We’re lollygagging back and we can’t do that.”
Eagle Valley (3-4 overall, 0-3 in the 4A Western Slope) hosts Middle Park Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. in a non-league contest.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.
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