Forget the Titans, Saints spikers roll
If you spend any time watching the Vail Christian Saints volleyball team, three things will immediately jump out at you.
n They always play as a team
n They always hustle for every ball, no matter what.
n And they are always smiling.
Those three things added up to the Saints’ second league victory of the year Saturday in a 3-0 romp over league-rival Crested Butte.
The match started out a little shaky for the home team, as a young, but very game, Titans squad got out to an early 16-11 lead in Game 1. During a break in that game, coach Cathy Alexander had a message for the Saints.
“I told them “you guys are playing well, and doing everything right, the balls just aren’t going in right now’,” said Alexander. “We just had to continue to pound away and eventually those balls would fall in and we’d be all right.”
The message came through loud and clear. The girls came out of the break and rode the strong serving of junior Lauren Mutter, which would bring them all the way back into the lead, 20-17.
On the following point, senior Megan Barry scored on a well-placed kill, which landed just in, to put the Saints up 21-17. A few unforced errors by Crested Butte at the end of Game 1 would seal the deal for Vail Christian, with a 25-21 final.
In Game 2, the Saints and Titans continued their hard-fought match, seemingly alternating points, and side-outs on every possession. The game was knotted up at 6-6 early on.
With that game hanging in the balance, outside-hitter Brittany Wright literally willed the Saints into the lead. While not finishing on many of the points, there was a stretch were she was digging everything, making amazing saves well into out-of-bounds territory and setting her teammates up for scoring opportunities, taking the score to 11-7.
“Brittany is a great defensive player,” said Alexander. “She plays very well and works very hard on her passing.”
Senior, and team leader, Brooke Horan-Kates, and junior Rachel Glandorf anchored the effort at the net, shutting down the Titans offense and helping continue the Saints run. And, Mutter would come on and hit some powerful serves to put Vail Christian up 17-9 in Game 2. That’s when the smiles really started coming out.
“We are really trying, in game-time situations, to just keep smiling and set up for the next point, even when things aren’t going are way,” said Alexander. “The girls have a good time out and there, and I think it shows.”
A few Horan-Kates kills later would find the Saints on the winning end of Game 2, 25-11.
From there, Crested Butte heads would drop and it was evident that the match was in hand for Vail Christian. However, the girls still had one more game to win, and they went about that in Game 3 in a happy, workmanlike fashion.
Glandorf, who had been relatively quiet by her standards up to this point, would put the team on her shoulders in Game 3 and help finish the match with a stretch of serves that saw the Saints win ten points in a row.
With the score 5-4 in favor of the home team, Glandorf hit a huge kill for the side-out. She then stepped up to serve, and when she finished, Vail Christian would enjoy a 16-5 advantage.
Crested Butte absolutely imploded at that point, making numerous unforced errors and allowing the Sailors to cruise to a 25-12 Game 3 victory.
“They (Crested Butte) were young,”” said Alexander. “They played us really well, especially in Game 1. But when a young team gets down 2-0, it’s tough to get back into it.”
Vail Christian, which is 2-6, and 2-1 in the league, after the win, have the week off from matches. The team will devote that time to training for a big road trip, which will see the Saints travel for a doubleheader against Ouray and Ridgway next Saturday.
David L’Heureux is a freelance writer based in Vail.