Devils spikers get payback against Sailors
Special to the Daily
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For Eagle Valley, it was sweet vindication, a glorious moment in the midst of a heart-wrenching season that’s been highlighted by some brilliant volleyball.
For Steamboat Springs, it was a crushing loss, a major blow to the team’s preseason aspirations of a Western Slope championship.
For five sets, it was just great volleyball, and after it was over, that was among the emotions that lingered as Eagle Valley beat Steamboat, 17-25, 25-17, 19-25, 25-19 and, thanks to a huge start to the fifth set, 15-7.
“Right now they’re playing better than anyone else in the league,” Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said. “They were impressive today, especially in the fifth. They just outplayed us in the fifth, and they got a couple up on us and the lights went off.”
Game 5 goes well
The Devils dealt with more before practice even started for the season than most teams ever will with the death of Garrett La Force.
On the court, it’s been consistently “almost” for the squad against their best competition all season.
The team lost four matches heading into Saturday’s second showdown of the season against Steamboat, in five sets every time.
The Sailors took one of those matches Sept. 18, as did Battle Mountain two nights later.
Eagle Valley was at its best late Saturday, however, ensuring this wouldn’t be another close call.
The Devils jumped out to a 9-1 lead in that fifth set, relying on crushing swings from junior Carlee Morrison on the outside and a devastating presence in the middle from senior Jaimee Rindy.
Steamboat actually got a golden and bizarre chance to get back into it when Eagle Valley lost two points and Steamboat was awarded one on a rotation error.
The Sailors tried to capitalize, coming within 8-5, but they couldn’t find a real answer for the Devils’ big swingers, operating at that point at maximum efficiency, and Eagle Valley rebounded.
Morrison “turns an average set or an out of system set into a strong attack, and that was something we did not do tonight, and they did, especially her,” Hall said. “She got her feet behind that dang ball and cranked it every time. She was the difference maker.”
When the final point fell, another sharp smack from Rindy, the players on the bench and the junior varsity players in the stands rushed on the court to help celebrate.
“It feels amazing. It’s just nice to know we can come back from a couple of losses and take a big one like this,” Morrison said. “Steamboat and Battle Mountain were tops on our list, so this feels amazing.”
Big matches ahead
If Eagle Valley could cross Battle Mountain off its list the way it did Steamboat, the Sailors would be greatly appreciative.
After Steamboat opened up 12-0 and Battle Mountain started 9-1, it seemed clear which teams were tops in the league, and after the Huskies shut down Steamboat in four sets Oct. 2, that order seemed established, as well.
The Sailors have high hopes of reversing things when they welcome Battle Mountain to Steamboat at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday night.
Now, that win alone won’t be enough to get the Sailors back in the race.
It could happen, though.
Battle Mountain has two matches next week, Tuesday at Steamboat and Thursday versus Eagle Valley in Edwards. If the Huskies lose both and barring any other upsets, then there’s a three-way knot at the top.
The Devils would like nothing more than to make a mess of things.
“We’re playing for more than the team that’s on the court,” Eagle Valley coach Lindsey Myers said. “We’re playing for our whole entire team, the whole program, and we’re starting to become mentally tough and work through those hard moments.”
Eagle Valley, 14-4 and 7-2, next plays Tuesday at home against Rifle. Steamboat, 14-3 and 8-2, is home Tuesday against Battle Mountain.
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