Devils spikers fall at regionals
Sports rarely have happy endings.
The playoffs come, and teams go by the wayside.
Eagle Valley volleyball knocked off Pueblo East in four on Saturday before falling to Air Academy in three games at the Class 4A Region 12 Volleyball Tournament down in Colorado Springs.
If any team deserved a Cinderella ending — or, least a trip to state — then it would be this bunch of Devils.
I really thought that this would be a season of healing, and it was, after coach Garrett La Force died in an auto accident in July. What I didn’t expect was the singleness of purpose of this group.
Of course, the Devils carried La Force in their hearts and minds. There were the flannel jackets, the “expect more” sign at home games and assistant Pat Sheehy’s get-ups like a Canadian tuxedo (all-denim). There was the occasional mention in postgame interviews and so on. But it wasn’t a television, “Movie of the Week.”
That’s because Eagle Valley volleyball expected to win. They weren’t going to let the offseason define them, not using it as an excuse.
They roared out to a 7-1 start. At their home opener, senior Jaimee Rindy said flat-out, “This is the year, we win league,” on Sept. 4. I was thinking at the time, “Jaimee, you just can’t say that. You’re going to be providing bulletin-board material for the entire Slope.”
While Eagle Valley shortly went into “The Week of Five-Game Awfulness,” losses to Coal Ridge Steamboat Springs and Battle Mountain, the Devils never strayed from that goal. Three five-set losses in a week would generally unravel most teams. Coach Lindsey Myers simply insisted her team had not played well enough and that would change.
Rookie coach, what did she know? (Answer: A lot.) Ho-hum, Eagle Valley resumed winning and took down both Steamboat and Battle Mountain on the road in the course of five days. Leading up to those two matches, I asked Myers if she was going light on the team during practice?
Rookie coach, I thought. (Upon further review, Freud should shut up.)
The Devils came back and won league and did so with grace, a testament to the maturity of the group. They won 12 matches in a row to finish the regular season.
There were doubtless tears on Saturday. It was doubtless a long drive back from the Springs. When the emotions clear, which they will because the sun does come up the next day — hope you remembered to “fall back” by the time you’re reading this — they’ll start to understand.
This was a memorable squad that I will remember for a long time.
Well done, ladies.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.