Eagle Valley downs Grand Valley in three; rematch with Battle Mountain looming
GYPSUM — The Devils are all in.
After taking care of Grand Valley (11-6, 5-2 3A Western Slope) in three sets on Tuesday night, Eagle Valley (15-2, 9-0 4A Western Slope) can now start looking forward to Thursday night, a rematch with Battle Mountain with a chance to clinch the Slope title.
With the rivalry match looming, the Devils came out slow against the Cardinals, competing back and forth for the first two sets. The Devils have only dropped 10 sets all season, and only one in league play (against Steamboat Springs).
“The key to the game was just to stop overlooking them,” Devils coach Jackie Rindy said. “We did not play well the first two sets at all. They have to remember that every match counts. You’ve got to play every opponent no matter who they are.”
By “not playing well,” the Devils still managed to win the first two sets, 25-16 and 25-20. The third set was all Eagle Valley, 25-11.
One reason for the slow start was the Cardinals offensive approach of tipping it up and over the Devils blockers at the net early on.
Eventually, Sydney Manzanares, Haley Carpenter and the rest of the Devils started stepping up and taking away the drop shots.
“It took them a while because they were on their heels, they were expecting harder hits coming out, but when they made the adjustment, they did good,” Rindy said.
And when the Cardinals started hitting hard, it seemed to ignite the fire in the Devils blockers, who had been watching balls fly over their fingertips most of the night.
Becy Glutova, Elyse Fitzpatrick and Teaghan Mercer all got in on the action for Eagle Valley, as well as Emma Lassa and Kylie Martin.
“As soon as we started playing our game, and we had the tempo, that’s when we got it going,” Martin said.
The Cardinals kept it close early in each of the first two sets, but the Devils have so many weapons that big runs were inevitable.
Tied, 13-13, in the first, Eagle Valley went on a 12-3 run, which included multiple connections for setter Molly Jewett to Martin and Glutova. The set was capped off by a diving dig by Manzanares on a Cardinals tip shot that Lassa finished off.
In the second set, tied 10-10, the Devils went on an 11-4 run, which they needed as the Cardinals made a push at the end of it. However, Jewett set up Glutova three straight times and then finished the game herself with an ace.
Rindy and Martin both said the matchup with the Huskies might have played a role in the first two sets against Grand Valley.
“I’m sure that is what was happening,” Martin said. “We definitely started out really slow. There’s been so much going into Battle Mountain’s game because it’s Dig Pink night and it’s Battle Mountain, so I’m sure a lot of people’s minds were on that.”
The Devils have been raising money during the month of October for breast cancer awareness, culminating with the Dig Pink Rally at the Battle Mountain game on Thursday. The Eagle Valley faithful will fill their stands at the gym in Gypsum with pink, and T-shirts will be on sale, as well. All money raised goes toward The Side-Out Foundation, a breast cancer research and awareness group.
“We’re so stoked for that game,” Manzanares said. “It’s going to be a great game.”
And the Devils will be looking to do what they’ve done all season, finish it in three.
“The game has meaning to us now. We can win the league championship outright, so that’s a big reason to come out and finish the game in three sets and not give them a chance to go four or five with us,” Rindy said.
Reporter Ross Leonhart ca be reached at 970-748-2915 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.