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Gore Rangers bring home district title

Ian Cropp

MONTROSE – This year, they would not be denied. After losing in the crossover last year, not even sickness could hold back the Vail Mountain spikers from taking the 1A District 1 championship.Saturday, the No. 1-seed Gore Rangers defeated No. 2-seed North Park in the crossover match, 25-17, 23-25, 22-25, 25-13, 17-15, assuring Vail Mountain a trip to regionals, then the Gore Rangers beat No. 3-seed Dove Creek, 25-18,19-25, 25-19, 25-14, for the district championship.”It was a great weekend for a team,” said Vail Mountain coach Mike Garvey. “There are 11 girls who know they each did something to help the team advance.”Vail Mountain found out Friday night that they would need strong bench play. Big hitter Aubrie Apple was sick, and Garvey decided he would sit her out in the first game Saturday against No. 5-seed Norwood and use her when she was able to play the remainder of the day.”We’ve been preaching about depth, saying injury or health won’t hurt us,” Garvey said. “Friday night, I went up to Kelsey Ferguson and asked her if she was ready to play, and without hesitation, she told me she was going to wow me with her play.”Ferguson, who had played JV for much of the regular season, fulfilled her promise. Elsie Macsata also did a great job filling in for the ailing Apple against Norwood, as the Gore Rangers won, 25-9, 12-25, 25-23, 25-20.”Kelsey and Elsie were a strong combo against Norwood,” Garvey said. “The team did well filling in around them and adjusting to a new lineup.”Vail vs. VailVail Mountain’s win over Norwood put the Gore Rangers at 2-0 as they faced a 1-1 Vail Christian team that easily defeated Ridgway earlier in the day.”Vail Christian knew they had to win to have a chance to move on, and we knew we wouldn’t be eliminated by a loss,” Garvey said.Still, the Gore Rangers didn’t want to leave anything to chance, and neither did Apple, who came back to play front row.The Gore Rangers won in three games, 25-20, 25-21, 25-18, eliminating the Saints from the postseason.”Stephanie Miletich came in as an outside hitter and responded well,” Garvey said. “She was a big part of our success.”At 3-0, the Gore Rangers drew North Park, which had lost to Dove Creek in pool play.In the fifth game, Vail Mountain had a comfortable lead at match point, but North Park won five straight points to tie the game at 15.”Stephanie set up some key kills late in the game,” Garvey said.Apple played in the game but felt queasy and had to sit out for stretches. Lindsay Wright was also not 100 percent healthy and had to rest, but the bench players came up huge for Vail Mountain.Strong finishThe win against North Park propelled the Gore Rangers to the regional championships, but they still had to face Dove Creek for the district championship and seeding for regionals.”Knowing we had advanced was a huge emotional lift for us,” Garvey said. “We were really relaxed against Dove Creek, and the girls wanted to win.”Cely Brinkmann had a solid game for the Gore Rangers.”She leads us emotionally,” Garvey said. “It was huge for us to ride her emotions from the North Park match.”Molly Etters had many key assists as the setter, and Della Elich had key blocks on Dove Creek’s big outside hitter.”Whenever we needed someone to step up, there was someone there to do it,” Garvey said.When the Gore Rangers head to Gunnison Friday to play in Saturday’s regionals, Garvey hopes his team will be in better health. Regardless of what arises between now and Saturday, the Gore Rangers will be the No. 2 seed from District 1, and two of the four teams at regionals will advance to states.”We’ll be ready to play,” Garvey said.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or icropp@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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