Devils net Huskies at last
EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” First, there was the obligatory group hug.
Then came the lingering. Members of the Eagle Valley volleyball team just stood on their end of the court, soaking in the moment. The basking was happily interrupted only by hugs from family, friends and then teammates all over again.
And the good vibes are likely to last for a while. The Devils defeated Battle Mountain Tuesday, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23, for their first win over their archrivals since Oct. 19, 2004.
“I’m so pumped,” Devils senior Whitney Wright said. “We finally got our time.”
It was indeed time for the six Eagle Valley seniors, who had been 0-6 against the Huskies the last three years.
“Oh my God, it feels so good,” said setter Kelsey Foster, another of the senior six. “It’s so unexpected to do it in three games. It’s hard to believe.”
For the trivially-inclined, Eagle Valley’s last win was a 26-28, 25-17, 25-21, 25-22 victory in Gypsum. Kenzie Shreeve led the team in kills and some guy named Karl Talcott was the team’s coach.
Ironically, Talcott was the head official for Tuesday’s match, but before anyone in Huskies Nation gets grumpy about this, just remember that he was on Battle Mountain’s coaching staff for the team’s 2006 state run.
However one looks at it, Eagle Valley’s win against the Huskies was a major step for the program as it hopes to vie for a league title.
“It’s good,” Eagle Valley coach Shawn Weatherred said. “I don’t put too much weight on early-season games, but it’s good for the seniors to win. I don’t know if we’ve beaten them in JV. They got the monkey of their back. It’s not the end of the season, though. We’re going to have a tough match with them in three or four weeks. We’re going to enjoy it tonight, and get back to it tomorrow.”
The two teams meet again Oct. 7 in Gypsum.
In a three-set match decided by a total of six points, what’s interesting to note is that the Devils had a whopping 11 service errors to Battle Mountain’s five.
While Eagle Valley likely would have preferred to have gone through Tuesday night without giving away so many freebies, Weatherred was relatively OK with the total.
“Most of our service errors came early in Games 1 and 3. We’d rather have errors early in a game, and recover from them,” he said. “We preach not letting up on serves. We don’t want them to just get the ball in. We tried not to let up on the serve, but make it a success.”
By contrast, Battle Mountain, though with fewer errors from behind the line, was not sharp in its serving game.
“We were trying to hit zones and keep it different,” Huskies coach Brian Doyon said. “We just were not getting them there. (Eagle Valley) did a good job. They were good at locating the ball and producing usable balls (for their hitters).”
Ironically, Eagle Valley had only one ace during the game ” on match point. Foster finished it.
“Lucky,” Foster said with a happy sigh. “It looked like it wasn’t going over the net.”
The Devils had their traditional first-game stumble, but unlike their previous outings against Grand Junction and Palisade, they rallied. Down 14-6, Eagle Valley’s Angela Phillips served off five-straight points, which included a big block by Kacey Bair of Battle Mountain’s Anna Padget-Shields.
That was the first sign that Eagle Valley was starting to control the net. Shelby Wright served the Devils into the lead for good and a Foster attack gave her team Game 1.
Eagle Valley started to show its balance offensively when freshman Alex Lassa joined the fray in the middle stanza. Wright, Foster and Lassa all ended the night with six kills each.
The Huskies looked like they were going to extend the match beyond three, taking a 16-11 lead in the final game, but Eagle Valley clearly had gained confidence by winning the first two games.
Behind the steady defense of Jaclyn Taylor and Shelby Wright, the Devils came back, and Foster was behind the line for the final four points.
“Eagle did a great job,” Doyon said. “They’re very athletic, very smart and played good volleyball down the stretch. We didn’t step up. Their girls were very dynamic and athletic. They did a lot of good things.”
Welcome back to Eagle Vail
The Devils moved to 3-0 in the Slope and 5-1 overall, while the Huskies fell to 2-1 and 4-2. Next up for both teams are Moffat County and Steamboat Springs on Saturday at Eagle-Vail. Playing two teams in one place on one day is a new initiative to reduce travel within the league.
So Eagle Valley will be the “home” team Saturday when it hosts Steamboat at 11 a.m. and Moffat at 4 p.m. in Battle Mountain’s auxiliary gym. The Huskies will be in the main gym for the Bulldogs at 11 a.m. and the Sailors at 4 p.m.
While Battle Mountain will be trying to bounce back, and Eagle Valley attempting to get its feet firmly on the ground after Tuesday’s game, Steamboat still figures to be the team to beat in the Slope chase.
“Three days of practice will help,” Weatherred said. “That schedules well. Steamboat is right up there. They’re young and talented, and (coach) Wendy (Hall) always has her team ready. It’s another measuring stick.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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