Devils spikers sweep rival Huskies
Battle Mountain gets off to fast start on senior night but can’t close games against downvalley rivals
The Eagle Valley girls volleyball team beat rival Battle Mountain in a clean sweep on Tuesday night, winning three sets in a row to secure a decisive victory.
This was Battle Mountain’s final home game of the season, and the Huskies opened the match with a celebration of their seven seniors. The celebratory mood translated to the court, and Battle Mountain took an early lead, taking advantage of miscommunication errors and out-of-bounds hits to run out to 10-6 lead.
The early-game momentum was decidedly on the Huskies’ side until Eagle Valley senior Kylee Hughes got a hot hand at the service line, serving four back-to-back aces to single-handedly tie the game at 10-10. After that rapid attack, the Devils settled into their game and began to dominate the court, sending consistent hard serves and spikes that the Battle Mountain squad could not return.
Eagle Valley won the first set 25-18, and carried the force of their its into the second set. The Devils served three unreturned points for an early lead, which steadily climbed to a 10-3 lead, with the Devils only giving away points for unforced errors.
Eagle Valley continued to stretch its lead throughout the second set, with little resistance from Battle Mountain until they were two points away from closing out the set. Then the Huskies came alive, landing two monster spikes and a block to delay the inevitable. Unfortunately, the efforts were too little too late, and the Devils sailed easily to a 25-14 win in the second set.
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The final efforts of the Battle Mountain team re-energized the group, and the Huskies opened the third set with the same intensity that earned them those three highlight-reel plays. With clean serves and returns being met by wide spikes from Eagle Valley, Battle Mountain moved into a 6-1 lead.
The gap began to close as the Devils regained control of their spikes and serves and simplified their game to put strategic tips over the net that the Huskies were unprepared to return. After tying the set at 11-11, the Devils proceeded to capitalize on their comeback and advance steadily with their clean play, only giving up a few points here and there for out-of-bounds hits and shots into the net. The final score of the third set was 25-15, punctuated with an ace serve to clinch the victory.
Eagle Valley coach Mike Garvey was proud of his team’s play and said they leaned on their strengths.
“Serving has been our strength,” Garvey said. “It’s given us the opportunity to get the other team out of system, and make their offense weaker. We’ll take a few misses here and there, and you’ll see that’s when the other team will tend to get back in the game, but I’m just really proud of the way that they responded and came back.”
The little tip shots that discombobulated the Huskies were also part of the Devils’ developing game strategy.
“We started off early in the season just swinging away at everything, and we’ve started to realize how you can make different shots and break a defense down,” Garvey said. “Just a great job from the middle tonight, they made really great choices.”
Battle Mountain coach Shelby Crummer was disappointed with the loss, but said the team is taking important lessons from the game.
“We did start very strong,” Crummer said. “That momentum was really good, and it felt like we were playing how we practice, but it’s another piece of art to put it into play consistently over a long period of time and maintain it over a long game when situations change. That’s just difficult, and I think that’s why the game is fun.”
As to celebrating her seven seniors, Crummer knows that their legacy will continue long after they have graduated.
“It’s going to be a tough reality for me to see them go, because I have a lot of respect for them and love for them as teenagers who I have coached,” Crummer said. “It will shift the program, but I know that the younger athletes really look up to and idolize a lot of them, because they believe in their athletic skill and their love for the game. I’m hopeful that even when the seniors aren’t here, the inspiration that they’ve given the younger athletes will remain. I’m so incredibly proud of them, and I will hate to see them go.”