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Gore Rangers rolling into districts

Ian CroppVail, CO Colorado

EAST VAIL Moving up a division in volleyball often leads a team to temper its expectation levels for a few years.This hasnt been the case for Vail Mountain. After jumping from 1A to 2A last year by choice and not necessitated by school size the Gore Rangers found their groove late in the season and nearly advanced out of districts at the No. 7 seed.Friday, Vail Mountain enters this years districts in the top half of the draw, as the No. 3 team.Last year we definitely were happy to be in 2A for competition reasons, said Vail Mountain captain, Molly Etters. This year we actually know how to handle it. The Gore Rangers, who tied for second in league, but were seeded third due to a tiebreaker, enter districts with some hot hands. After starting out the league play with losses to champion Rangely and No. 2 West Grand, Vail Mountain cruised through league, and only lost close matches to tough non-league opponents.One goal was not to have a plateau in the season, Etters said. And weve accomplished that. We keep getting better and it isnt over.On Friday, the Gore Rangers lost to rival Vail Christian in five games, then beat both Crested Butte and Hayden in three games the following morning. We thought that was a great transition into this weekend, said Vail Mountain coach Mike Garvey. That exactly what we needed to do.Friday, the Gore Rangers kick off districts championship play against No. 6 Paonia, then face No. 7 Grand Valley. Saturday morning, Vail Mountain hopes to pay back West Grand, and feels confident it can do so.We looked back and watched game tapes of the Rangely and West Grand losses and we saw two things, Garvey said. They werent the overpowering teams we saw at the end of the year and our consistency has greatly improved.I think the first time we looked at it as a missed opportunity. We knew a large percentage of points were our errors. With as tough of a non-conference finish that we had, I think our girls will be pleasantly surprised getting back knowing theyre a strong team.

The Gore Rangers will be without the services of Chanda Wilcox this weekend, as she injured her thumb this week in practice. With a deep bench that has produced all season, Vail Mountain should still be able to get production in the middle.Well sit her and everyone else is picking up the slack, Garvey said. The things were asking our middles to do are put up a consistent block and run a fast attack.After pool play, the top two teams will crossover to the other pool, which features Rangely, Hayden, Meeker and Soroco. Rangely already has a bye to regionals, and will be joined by the other top finisher at districts.Our goal is coming out on top and beating Rangely and West Grand, Etters said.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com


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