Eagle Valley volleyball gets past Battle Mountain in four
That’s what a rivalry game should be
GYPSUM — That was really fun. Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain volleyball should probably do this again.
April 10 in Edwards is the rematch after the Devils moved to 5-0 with a 23-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-22 well-earned rivalry win over Battle Mountain Saturday afternoon in Gypsum.
“It’s so cool. It’s not our main goal,” Devils senior outside-hitter Sophia Rinn said of the Huskies. “We need to take it one game at a time, one point at a time.”
In what was the best contest played this school year in any sport to date between the Devils and Huskies, the two squads essentially played a chess match with contrasting styles. That one-point-at-a-time approach was key.
Battle Mountain is not a small team — we don’t see any volunteers from fans willing to get in front of Claire Ricca, McKenzie Clyncke or Sadi Petrovski swings, just to name a few — but the Huskies were smaller than the Devils and, in some ways, took on the personality of a scrappy squad.
For old-school volleyball observers, think Moffat County back in the late ’90s and early 2000s when the Bulldogs were in the same 3A league with the Devils and Huskies. Those Moffat teams never seemed to have anyone taller than 5-foot-8, but the Bulldogs of old just didn’t let the ball hit the ground, eventually frustrating the heck out of the opponent forcing said opponent to make mistakes.
The Huskies nearly forced a fifth game on Saturday with a variant of the Moffat strategery.
Eagle Valley had a championship-style response — persistence and getting better serves to start rallies. The keep-with-it talk is universal to any sport — “You’re playing great. Just keep playing that way and you’ll break the other team down” — was a theme on the Devils’ bench.
“Every point is a ton of adrenaline,” Devils libero Olivia Fedrizzi said. “We’re yelling after every point, so we need to check in with ourselves, take a deep breath. Our main focus is to keep our energy steady. We want to be excited, but not making silly mistakes.”
Eventually, Eagle Valley’s depth up front won the day, but just barely.
While it’s darn dangerous in these COVID-shortened seasons to make predictions based on five games, Eagle Valley’s approach to Battle Mountain’s strategy is a good sign. If the Devils are going where they want to go — the postseason — they will see more teams that try to beat them by keeping the ball off the floor.
Ideally, the Devils will also face teams that are as good, if not better, than them and they’ll need to figure out a way to win, especially when coming off a big win like Palisade the night previous.
“We mentioned during the match that the state tournament is going to be on back-to-back days,” Devils coach Mike Garvey said. “Let’s figure out how to win ugly.”
News and notes
- If there was one qualm with Saturday’s match, it was serving. Yes, of course, some of the misses were due to being aggressive. That’ll happen. But, the volume of errors indicates the general pomp associated with a rivalry game. Ironically, after both teams gave away points like it was Christmas in the serving game, Eagle Valley’s Claire Whelan served up a run that put the game away in the fourth set.
- Battle Mountain leaves Gypsum disappointed, but knowing that it can likely play with the teams of the Slope, which is good thing because the schedule is going right there.
“(Eagle Valley) was coming off that big win against Palisade. That was an extra scoop of energy. Everyone wants to beat Palisade,” Huskies coach Shelby Crummer said. “We need to focus on maintaining our endurance and intensity. We found some ways to come back. Sometimes, you don’t win.”
Battle Mountain has a busy week ahead on the road — at Roaring Fork Wednesday; at Steamboat Springs Thursday and out to Palisade on Saturday.
- Hustle play of the day: Battle Mountain libero Yarytzel Grajeda had a beautiful kick-save of a pass of which Huskies hockey goalie Logan Gremmer would have approved. And, yes, it is legal for the ball to hit the foot. Battle Mountain has found soccer players that way in the past.
- Eagle Valley is 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Slope. The Devils are going to try to capitalize on some home cooking. The exact opposite of Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley is home Tuesday for Steamboat — will the Huskies be in attendance? — Thursday for Summit and, if it’s Saturday, it must be Montrose.