Eagle Valley heads to regionals | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley heads to regionals

SPT EVVB Phillips TS 10-18-08

GYPSUM, Colorado ” Shawn Weatherred is either a hypnotist or one heckuva coach.

Clearly, it’s the latter, but Weatherred’s players are near robots when facing one question.

What’s the key to making state?

“We are going to play one point at time,” Whitney Wright said.

“All we are thinking about right now is the first point against Skyline,” Jaclyn Taylor added.

No, Wright and Taylor weren’t in a trance-like state. They, like the rest of the Eagle Valley volleyball team, have just bought into Weatherred’s team motto. “Next point.”

It’s working. All the Devils did this season was win their first 4A Slope title, and take second in districts last weekend to advance into the regionals. Eagle Valley hopes to clinch a berth to the state tournament this weekend when it travels to Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs to compete in the 4A Region A Volleyball Tournament.

“Oh my gosh, I’m so excited,” Taylor said. “It’s hard because you try not to get too excited, so you don’t get too nervous.”

Weatherred hopes to keep his team loose heading into its first match against Skyline (13-10) on Saturday at 8 a.m. It helps when the first-year coach wears shirts like he did Thursday ” a tribute to “The Big Lebowski.”

“It’s hard to tell until Saturday, but (I think) they have a little less nerves than at the districts,” Weatherred said. “We were much more nervous being at home, and being one of the favorites. I think they are playing a little looser now. On the Front Range, no one knows about us. We are going in there with nothing to lose.”

The Devils advanced to the regionals by taking care of their “private residence, man” last weekend. Eagle Valley survived a five-set thriller against Montezuma-Cortez in the first crossover match to clinch a top-two spot in District 7. The Devils worked hard to punch their ticket to regionals. Eagle Valley played 18 out of 20 possible sets in the district tournament.

Eagle Valley was rewarded with the No. 9 seed in regionals ” the highest it could get after finishing second in districts. Eight teams make the state tournament, meaning the Devils are right in the thick of the race.

Now, the competition gets tougher. In Region A with Eagle Valley is No. 1-seeded Cheyenne Mountain (22-1), No. 8 Skyline and No. 16 Mountain View (11-12). Weatherred thinks if the Devils can go 2-1 on Saturday, they should be in good shape.

“It helps to know we only have to play three matches (on Saturday),” Weatherred said. “When we faced Mullen (at districts), we had already played five more sets than Mullen had. I think it’s an advantage (for this weekend) if we recover from that, and build some strength mentally.”

The tougher opposition means everyone is going to have to step up, starting with the libero, Taylor. Cheyenne Mountain should possess plenty of power to go along with its No. 1 ranking. Skyline and Mountain View will likely provide some muscle of their own.

“Not only do you have to dig easy balls, but now it is going to be slammed at you,” Taylor said. “It will make it way more exciting when I dig it.”

Contributions up and down the lineup helped push Eagle Valley into regionals. The same will need to hold true on Saturday. Luckily, depth has been a strong point for the Devils all season.

“When one person is down for one game, you can’t even tell because everyone else is shining,” Wright said.

After facing Skyline in its first match, Eagle Valley will meet Cheyenne Mountain at 12:30, followed by Mountain View at 2 p.m.

Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or ismith@vaildaily.com.

4A Region A Volleyball Tournament

Eagle Valley vs. Skyline, 8 a.m.

Mountain View vs. Cheyenne Mountain, 9:30 a.m.

Mountain View vs. Skyline, 11 a.m.

Eagle Valley vs. Cheyenne Mountain, 12:30 p.m.

Eagle Valley vs. Mountain View, 2 p.m.

Skyline vs. Cheyenne Mountain, 3:30 p.m.

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