Eagle Valley cruises in three sets
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM, Colorado ” It took Eagle Valley one point. One point before the Devils dominated every facet of the match.
Rifle’s Sandy Samson served an ace to start play, but it was all Eagle Valley (9-1, 6-0) from there. The Devils cruised in three sets Thursday, winning 25-10, 25-17 and 25-16. Eagle Valley wrapped up the victory in 50 minutes.
“This is the first game, where I’d like to say we didn’t show up,” Rifle coach Geneva Farr said. “But overall, I’ve never seen Eagle play as classy as they have. I can see them being at the top of the league.”
The Devils wasted little time before grabbing control of Game 1. After Samson’s ace, Eagle Valley reeled off 11-straight points. Most of the damage came from the right hand of Kelsey Foster. No, it wasn’t her powerful kills, but rather her well-placed serves.
Foster recorded three-straight aces to give the Devils a 9-1 lead. Serve-receive hurt Rifle all night. Eagle Valley notched 16 aces in the match.
“We didn’t even warm up serving,” Eagle Valley coach Shawn Weatherred said. “One our deals is to just serve tough, not really focus on in or out. Just focus on serving tough. We feel it’s the first weapon we have in the game.”
Eagle Valley continued to cruise in Game 1 behind Whitney Wright. The senior tipped the ball over the net for a 13-5 advantage. Later, Wright’s slam was blocked out of bounds to make it 17-7. Foster finished off Rifle in the first game with another ace.
“We’ve had some games where we had a lot of service errors, looking back in the season,” Weatherred said. “If we’re serving tough, I’ll take that chance of an out serve.”
Rifle battled in Game 2, but mistakes again hurt the Bears. Brianna Bascom hit a winner to give Rifle an early 6-5 edge, but the Devils quickly regained the lead.
Angela Phillips notched another ace for Eagle Valley for a 13-9 advantage.
The Bears came back to cut the deficit to 16-14, but Whitney VanVoorst ended any chance of a rally. VanVoorst hit three more aces down the stretch to push Eagle Valley to the 25-17 Game 2 win.
“All week we were drilling for the deep serve,” Farr said. “In the past, Eagle has pushed you off the court. I have some of the best passers in the league, tonight was just not their game. Tonight was not the game.”
Weatherred mixed up the Devils’ lineup in Game 3, but Eagle Valley still kept attacking. A Lauren Shreeve winner gave the Devils a 7-1 edge. Becka VanVoorst followed her with a kill to make it 9-3.
Rifle did its best to stay in the game, but it wasn’t enough. Karolina Zolniercyk blocked a Bears slam for a point and 21-13 lead. Zolniercyk fittingly ended the match on another ace for Eagle Valley.
“(Eagle Valley) stays consistent,” Farr said. “They aren’t shambled, even when they make a mistake. I don’t see anything that gets them distraught.”
Even after the easy victory, Weatherred had praise for the young Rifle squad. The Bears only have two seniors on their roster. Last week, Rifle won its first league game since 2003.
“Rifle is still a developing program,” Weatherred said. “I have a ton of respect for what they’ve done the past five years. They’ve come a long way.”
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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