Eagle Valley volleyball wins at Homecoming, while Devils soccer shows grit in defeat
GYPSUM — They needed this one.
Paraphrasing Rick Pitino, “Becy Glutova or Kylie Martin ain’t coming through that door,” Eagle Valley volleyball, ravaged by injuries, has the team it’s going to have this season, and the Devils need to find wins with the players they have.
On Thursday, Sept. 27, Eagle Valley (8-3 overall and 3-2 in the 4A Slope) got a Homecoming win against Rifle, 25-6, 25-22, 25-20.
Yes, the Devils needed a win against the Bears (1-12, 0-5), but Eagle Valley took care of things in three sets, the first time in five matches that the team didn’t go the full five.
Eagle Valley also looked crisper in stretches. This is a part of the continuing getting-to-know-you-process happening in Devils’ camp as the team adjusts to replacing Sophia Rinn and Sky Lieurance.
A first-set win by a count of 25-6 certainly qualifies as crispy.
Game 2? Not so crispy as the Devils let the Bears hang around before winning, 25-22.
The Game 3 25-20 win? Perhaps, medium crispy?
With the understanding that Eagle Valley volleyball is not a piece of chicken sold at KFC, the need for crisp play comes with the last moth of regular season play, starting with Steamboat Springs in Gypsum on Thursday, Oct. 5. Entering the Homecoming match, Palisade and Steamboat were 4-1 in the Slope, with Battle Mountain 4-2 and the Devils now 3-2.
Given that Eagle Valley handed Steamboat its only loss and those Sailors handed Palisade its only loss, while Battle Mountain beat Eagle Valley, yet those Huskies lost to Palisade, mayhem in the chase for the league title seems to be on tap.
The cleaner the Devils play with their new lineup, the better chance they have of hunting down the pack.
“We’re stuck in mediocre right now,” Devils coach Jackie Rindy said. “They got to work through that. That’s the question I asked them, ‘How do you get past mediocre?’ They’ve got to find a way to finish points, and I’m not sure who’s going to do that. Somebody has to step up.”
That sentiment was echoed by senior middle-blocker Elysse Fitzpatrick.
“We just have to learn how to bring the energy up and be more consistent and work hard as a team,” she said.
On a fun Homecoming note, the Devils celebrated their win with the Pep Squad, aka the student section, by singing John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” a clever riposte to archrival Battle Mountain playing Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” after beating the Devils last week.
Devils soccer makes progress against Rifle
It’s better, but Eagle Valley soccer still left the pitch of John Ramunno Field with a bitter taste after a 4-2 loss to Rifle on Thursday, Sept. 27.
When the Devils traveled to Rifle in August, they got pasted, 6-2, for their efforts. This time around, Eagle Valley had a 2-1 lead during the second half, but couldn’t come away with the win.
The positive of Thursday night was switching fields.
“This whole week we’ve been working on switching the play,” Devils coach Maggie Sherman said. “We’ve been too much on one side of the field, so we were really needing to get that going and we found pieces of that today. Hopefully, that clicks and continues.”
For the uninitiated, switching the play, or field, not only prevents a team from going down the same side of the pitch all the time, but also eventually opens up seams in the opposing defense. This is part of the system that Sherman is installing, whose ultimate goal is to get wide, using the flanks to create scoring chances.
If this sounds familiar, well, it is. It’s the same philosophy that both Battle Mountain and Vail Mountain have used to great success.
Of course, to do anything offensively, you have to have the ball, and Eagle Valley is still working on the desire portion of possession that will lead to success.
“A lot of it’s a mentality, to be so not OK with the other team having the ball that you will do anything to get it back,” Sherman said. “We’re still not feeling that yet. To be able to lose it and do whatever it takes to get it back and then do whatever it takes to keep it, that mentality we’re still trying to process.”
Eagle Valley (1-8, 1-6) got goals from Alexys Dominguez and Armando Munoz. The Devils head to Grand Junction Central on Saturday, Sept. 29.