Eagle Valley’s state volleyball tournament ends with loss to No. 1 Lewis-Palmer

Devils were making their first appearance in the state tournament since 2016

Eagle Valley celebrates its regional title last week in Gypsum. The Devils' season ended with a 3-0 loss to No. 1 Lewis-Palmer on Friday at the 4A state tournament in Denver.
Juan M. Peña/Courtesy photo

As Eagle Valley head volleyball coach Mike Garvey aptly pointed out Friday afternoon — “there’s about 50 different scenarios” when a team comes into the state tournament.

“And then they play themselves out,” he said. What manifested from the first day of play in the double-elimination 4A bracket would have been hard for anyone to prognosticate.

On Thursday, No. 9 Cheyenne Mountain upset No. 1 Lewis-Palmer, sending the Rangers to a win-or-go-home match against the Devils — who lost to The Classical Academy earlier in the day — on Friday morning at the Denver Coliseum.

“We just kind of said, ‘OK, we have a phenomenal opponent either way,” Garvey said regarding his thoughts as he watched the Red-Tailed Hawks cruise to a 3-1 win over the best team in 4A. After dinner, the Devils regrouped late Thursday evening.

“We said, ‘why not?'” Garvey recalled of the pregame-meeting vibes. “The girls really embraced it as a great opportunity.”

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In the end, Lewis-Palmer would end Eagle Valley’s first state-tournament trip since 2016 with a 25-23, 25-11, 25-20 victory.

“We came out and the idea was serve tough and see if we could keep the bigger team off the net,” Garvey said before admitting that the Devils struggled with the Rangers’ sheer size.

“We had to adjust and really get the ball off the net so that we could get further away from their block — which we did at times,” he continued. “And then you get back into your old system and put up what used to be a great set and with their size, we were just outmatched at the net.”

Learning how to fight

The morning of their first-round matchup against No. 10-seed TCA on Thursday, outside hitter Taylor Hooper came down with a stomach bug. Garvey praised Zakia Shreeve and Ava Tarrant for stepping in.

“They did a great job coming in and seeing a lot of time,” he said. “The team rallied on the first day.”

The coach noticed a revitalized spirit within the huddle when Hooper returned on Friday.

“Everybody was just excited, like, we had the whole group,” he said, adding that Hooper’s return reminded the team to be grateful for earning the trip to Denver in the first place.

“If this happened last weekend, we might not qualify,” Garvey stated.

“So the team definitely embraced some gratitude. We kept reminding ourselves that we were at the state tournament. Even if it didn’t go perfectly here, they got here — and they were really proud of that.”

The Devils ended their season with a 20-7 record. Looking ahead to next season, Garvey said replacing 11 seniors, counting the team managers, is going to a “unique challenge.”

“Normally you’re bringing back a fair amount,” he said. “So next year is going to be fairly new. I’m excited about that opportunity because it’s a lot of girls that will have the opportunity to develop some leadership skills and step into new roles.”

Aspen Misch and Taylor Hooper will be key returners for Eagle Valley in 2024.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

He said the play of Eagle Valley’s C-team and junior varsity squads provide reason for optimism going into 2024. He hopes to see the new conglomerate gel with key returners in Hooper and Aspen Misch over next summer’s off-season tournaments.

“There’s going to be a lot of learning curve to figure out who we are and who we’re going to be,” he said. “But that’s the challenge, and I think it’s a group that says, ‘OK, let’s go meet that challenge.'”

Reflecting on the entire fall, Garvey went back to the word this year’s group decided to print on the team T-shirts over the summer: fight.

“That was about fighting for little things on the court — fighting to get into good position, to transition as far as you can,” he explained. “And a little adversity this year was what we needed to become great.”

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