Devils get their revenge against Huskies
EDWARDS — All. The. Way. Back.
The Eagle Valley volleyball team has come full circle, beating Battle Mountain, 22-25, 25-22, 25-13, 26-24, on Thursday night in Edwards to surge into the lead in the Western Slope.
“It was awesome. I think we play for more than just what’s in this room obviously,” said a very happy Eagle Valley coach Lindsey Myers. “I think we proved we can come back. We proved we can push through. We won’t let anything get to us. We proved tonight we can come back after being beat.”
The Devils are playing for their former coach Garrett La Force, who died in an auto accident this summer. They’re also playing for themselves.
A week of sweeps
About one month ago, Eagle Valley (16-4 overall and 9-2 in the Slope) lost three matches in one week, all by five games. That stretch included gut-wrenchers against Steamboat Springs and Battle Mountain.
“It was exhausting at first,” said Kylie Martin, who had a monstrous fourth game on Thursday. “We pushed through it. It helped us get better. Even though they were tough games, we had to push to the very end for the team.”
The Devils won six matches in a row going into Saturday’s rematch at Steamboat Springs. Eagle Valley got the Sailors in five.
“After Steamboat we knew something was there,” said Morgan Murphy, who crushed the ball all night long. “Playing for Garrett is a huge component for us.”
And after a win against Rifle on Tuesday, the Devils got their revenge against Battle Mountain (18-2, 9-2).
“We didn’t defend,” said Huskies coach Jason Fitzgerald, a native Michigander. “Give Eagle Valley credit. They came in here and did what they needed to do. We were like the Detroit Lions. We found a way to lose.”
Battle Mountain’s injuries are well documented. Setter Maddie Perkins is still out with an ankle injury. Middle Emily Clinton returned from her own ankle injury. While the Devils probably empathize with the Huskies, Eagle Valley rightly didn’t feel sorry for Battle Mountain.
The difference between the first meeting between the two teams and Thursday’s match was that the Devils were much more diversified offensively. Murphy, Carlee Morrison, Jaimee Rindy, Becy Glutova and Martin were all firing, and that makes any team harder to defend.
“We’ve been working on our setters mixing it up, watching the block on the other side.” Myers said. “It made a really big difference. We’re just working hard as a team and becoming better as a group.”
The Huskies did not go quietly. These two rivals seem to bring out the best in each other. The Devils led in the fourth, 21-18, only to see the Huskies rally to tie. An attack from Timaree McKenny and a combo block from McKenny and Clinton had the Huskies up 23-21.
Martin and Mackenzie Ellison traded kills and it was tied at 24, before Eagle Valley closed the door and celebrated with gusto.
Eagle Valley, Battle Mountain and Steamboat are all tied at 9-2 in the Slope. If — and it’s a big if — all three teams hold serve, winning their final three matches, it comes down to set-percentage in the six matches among the three. After Thursday, Eagle Valley is 10-9, Steamboat 10-10 and Battle Mountain 8-9. Eagle Valley has the tiebreaker.
But as both coaches pointed out after Thursday’s match, there’s a lot of volleyball to go. Fitzgerald said that after Perkins went down, the Huskies started shooting for regionals and the setter’s possible return.
Battle Mountain hosts Glenwood Springs on Saturday in its final home game of the season. In the meantime, Thursday was officially Senior Night, and it was a bittersweet one for Taylor Anderson, Malia Barca, Perkins, Ellison, Sofia Calabrese, Clinton and Jessica Cuomo.
Eagle Valley continues its title quest by hosting Palisade on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.