Happy Homecoming: Vail Mountain School volleyball sweeps Vail Christian
EDWARDS — Somebody was going to win on Homecoming week on Tuesday, Oct. 2.
After all, it’s Homecoming for both Vail Mountain School and Vail Christian. But it was the Gore Rangers coming up with a 25-16, 25-16, 25-16 victory over the Saints at Edwards’ Wheeler Athletic Center.
“It was their Homecoming, so it makes it even better,” Vail Mountain outside hitter Sarah Evans joked.
Yes, this was Vail Christian’s Homecoming game. VMS is home Friday, Oct. 5, for DeBeque and Saturday, Oct. 6, for West Grand with Saturday being the Gore Rangers’ official Homecoming party.
But VMS (11-3 overall and 7-1 in the 2A Slope) is happy to win on any day. The team was coming off a strong showing at Battle Mountain’s Queen of the Mountain tournament, where the Gore Rangers beat 3A Aspen and 4A Durango. Those wins gave an already solid team so serious confidence.
“I think it really helped show us what our team can do,” Evans said. “We can play our game and win. When we play teams in our league, we’re going to do well.”
Gore Rangers show power
Tuesday’s match pretty much was a distillation of where the VMS and Vail Christian programs are. This group of Gore Rangers has been playing together for a few years, while Vail Christian (4-9, 3-6) is rebuilding.
Where it is most notable is at the net. VMS has people who can finish points, while Vail Christian isn’t there yet.
All one has to do is ask VMS setter Chloe Pesso who gets to choose from her team’s attack options.
“It’s great. I have so many good hitters,” she said. “It makes my job easy. I can put it up and they can drill into the ground. We’ve been practicing a lot of plays in practice and we take it out in the games.”
Evans has proven very proficient in drilling the ball, yet, woe be to the team that tries to sit on her. It won’t work. Maggie Sturm, Payton Connolly, Oly Holguin and Lexi Linafelter can also slam them down.
And this is why VMS volleyball is pretty darn excited about the stretch drive. Not that anyone is looking — of course, not — but the Gore Rangers were ranked No. 8 in the rating-percentage index, entering Tuesday night’s game.
Since RPI is new to 2A, the goal is to be ranked in the top 12 as those dozen teams host regionals with a berth to state on the line.
Before VMS punches its ticket to the Denver Coliseum, however, there’s always a to-do list. Serving errors — 13 in all and a whopping six during the first set — will be a subject in practice in East Vail this week.
“Today was not our best for control,” VMS coach Whitney Armistead said. “We were a little out of it. We weren’t at our best today, so we’re focusing because we have a big weekend ahead.”
Meanwhile, it’s important to note that Vail Christian is making strides. The Saints got off to a quick start with great serving from Abby Kuhns and Kendelle Smith. Tanner Pierce-Durrance had big moments in blocking at the net during the third set.
While the wins aren’t coming as quickly as Saints fans would like, they are coming, and, more importantly, Vail Christian is building a foundation.
“Our serving, our passing our blocking, the girls are improving every single day,” Saints coach Lisa Bradley said. “It’s definitely a bit of fundamentals, but it’s more refining what we’ve been working hard on.”
The Saints’ next game is Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Summit County.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.