District 7: Eagle Valley
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM ” They meet again.
In case two, five-game matches weren’t enough between Eagle Valley and Glenwood volleyball, the two teams kick off district play Saturday morning in Eagle-Vail of all places.
“We feel very good because we found out some stuff we can do to help our chances to beat them again,” Eagle Valley coach Rob Crawford said.
What’s more? The Devils could meet rival Battle Mountain one more time.
The No. 3 Devils, who beat the Demons on the road to close out the season at 7-7 in the 4A Western Slope, enter districts at Battle Mountain with their usual late-season surge, having won four in a row.
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“We always end up with really good momentum toward the end of the season,” said Eagle Valley setter Kelsey Foster. “Hopefully the momentum we’ve had in the past four matches will carry over to districts and even further.”
If the Devils want to extend their season another week, they’ll likely have to beat an unfamiliar team or two. Rounding out Eagle Valley’s bracket is No. 2 Rock Canyon.
“I don’t know how they play,” Crawford said. “They aren’t terribly offensive, but they play in a 5A league, so it’s a hard read. We definitely want to win our pool so we have a better chance of winning a crossover match.”
On the other side of the draw is No. 1 Battle Mountain, No. 4 Mullen and No. 6 Fort Lupton. Last year at districts in Denver, the Devils won their draw, only to fall in the semifinals. But having a core of starters back from that squad gives Crawford more confidence this time around.
“We kind of froze up a really important time,” Crawford said. “I truly believe these kids will stay on task. They know they can come back from a not so good place and finish strong.”
In both matches against Glenwood, the Devils won the first two games, only to lose the second two and take the final one.
One advantage Crawford feels his team has over most of the other teams is familiarity with the gym, which can throw a few points in Eagle Valley’s direction.
“I think it will help that Battle Mountain has the same shaped ceiling as us,” he said. “We’ve been playing the ball off the ceiling in practice this week on purpose to get a feel of how the ball will go off it.”
The Devils haven’t seen much multiple-match action since early-season scrimmages. But the long day, which starts at 9:15 a.m. match with Glenwood, immediately followed by Rock Canyon, shouldn’t be a problem for Eagle Valley.
“Luckily, we’ve got 14 kids on our team and have plenty who can go in at time and do a great job,” Crawford said. “I think that definitely goes to our advantage. We have three setters, five middle (hitters), outsides and some defensive specialists.”
And even if some kids don’t get much relief, it’s nothing new.
“A lot of us played club and we know what to expect when it comes to a full day of volleyball,” Foster said.
After pool play, crossovers will start around 12:15 p.m. and the championship begins at about 2 p.m. The Devils will play in the auxiliary gym for pool matches, and if they face Battle Mountain in the crossovers, will move to the main gym. The finals will be played in the main gym.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.