Huskies complete a dream season
DENVER Yes, they are that good. All season the Huskies spikers have rolled through their competition, but the question remained, “Are they really that good?”Battle Mountain answered that question emphatically Saturday night at the Denver Coliseum, rolling Mountain View, 25-20, 25-21, 25-18, for the school’s first state volleyball crown.Nicole Penwill did the honors with a kill at 8:38 p.m., capping a dream season.”During the first game I looked over and saw (the state trophy) sitting there,” setter Britney Brown said. “I was thinking, ‘We want that.'”Battle Mountain got it, and celebrated by sitting down joyously on its side of the court.
“Amazing. This is the best thing to happen senior year,” outside hitter Sofia Lindroth said. “At first, it didn’t hit me that we were state champs. Right after that, we were all huddled up and I was like, ‘This is our season.'”For every member of this team, it was vindication for a four-game loss to Sterling in last year’s semifinals. For head coach Brian Doyon and the program, the title marks the final step from 4A oblivion back in 2000 to the ultimate triumph.”The only thing I’m going to say is how proud I am of the girls, how hard they worked from the beginning when I took over here, and the difficulties we had, and to have this as their final game their senior year there’s no better gift,” Doyon said. “Phenomenal, that’s the only way you can describe it.” No. 4?The Huskies entered the state tournament with an impressive resume including a 25-1 record with Western Slope, district and regional titles, but not much respect as the fourth seed. They got it by drumming the three teams ahead of them in the rankings in order Saturday No.1 Sterling, No.2 Cheyenne Mountain and the third-ranked Mountain Lions for the title.”You can’t describe the feeling. It’s great,” Battle Mountain senior Crystin Rodrick said. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, that the season’s over, that we’re the best team and we just won state. Now, we can say it. Now we’ve proved they seeded us wrong in fourth. They thought we couldn’t beat Sterling, and we did. I’m glad we got to see Mountain View in the end. They’re tough competition.”
Battle Mountain finished the year with, pardon the expression, a Sterling 30-1 record, easily the best in the program’s history. The Huskies were a perfect 30-0 against 4A competition, their only loss coming to Doherty, ranked No. 8 in 5A.What’s more Battle Mountain racked up a perfect 90-0 record in games against the 4A field from the opener against Summit County to Saturday night’s finale against Mountain View.”We don’t actually think about it like, ‘Oh, we’re 90-0,'” Lindroth said. “When we look back and someone tells us, it’s like, ‘Wow.'”Wow, indeed.And with the championship, fall 2006 goes down as the first time Battle Mountain has won two state titles in one season. Volleyball joins boys’ cross country which finished at the top of the heap in 4A two weeks ago in Colorado Springs. The 2006 state champs are Alexa Corcoran, Sydney Nichols, Lindroth, Annie Marcum, Brown, Kori Landauer, Rodrick, Allie O’Connor, Penwill, Kendra Havlik, Sarah Simmons, Jennifer Thul and Devon Abbott.
‘Our excuse’Battle Mountain’s 30th win of the season was much like the 29 that preceded it, except that 4,787 fans were in the Coliseum, four other title games were being played simultaneously and that there was that big golden trophy to which Brown had alluded.In all seriousness, it really was the same old Battle Mountain. The Huskies’ defense was brilliant. And the offense was the same-old, same-old, coming from all corners.The Huskies jumped out to leads of 5-1 and 11-6 before the Mountain Lions tied it at 20. Penwill and Nichols served the key stretch. Rodrick and Lindroth put down thundering attacks, and the Huskies led 1-0.Battle Mountain fell in a 4-0 hole before rallying in the second. If any play epitomized Battle Mountain’s effort this weekend it came with the Huskies down, 8-7. Simmons got a piece of a Mountain View attack. The ball appeared headed toward the tunnel behind Court 4, but Rodrick fetched it back to Simmons who put it back on the Lions’ side. Abbot came away with the point.Though the Huskies trailed again, it was definitely looking like Battle Mountain’s night. Rodrick gave the Huskies the lead at 21-20 with one of her signature attacks. Penwill served out the game with two blocks from Abbott.
From there, the Huskies dominated, except that it got a little sloppy at the end. Battle Mountain led 24-13, and surrendered five straight points before the party began.”Our excuse is that we just wanted it to last,” Rodrick joked. “We’ll just leave it at that.” Hold that TigerThere are sweeps and then there are sweeps. Battle Mountain’s morning tilt against Sterling was one for the ages. It went only three games, but try telling that to anyone who played in it or watched the game that Battle Mountain won, 25-23, 25-22, 25-22.”When you get the two biggest kids on the block and they rumble, they rumble, and we were very fortunate to come out on top,” Doyon said. “For our girls, it was nice. It said, ‘Hey, we belong here.'”
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The Huskies showed they belonged in a game which was excellently played by both sides with one notable exception Sterling’s serving game. The Tigers had 10 service errors, including five in the second game alone.”Tell me about it. I don’t know,” Tigers coach Lisa Schumacher said. Both teams went back and forth with each other retrieving seemingly unreturnable balls, digging blistering spikes and blocking scorching attacks. The Huskies had the slight edge on defense, and that was the difference.One of the difference makers standing out of a tremendous team effort was Abbott who likely had her best game as a Husky. She had six kills on 10 attacks and had two solo blocks and four assists. “I’ve seen her play like that lots,” Doyon said nonchalantly. “That’s why she’s there.”Abbott and Lindroth, who led the team with 12 kills, broke a 23-23 tie in the first game with attacks, giving the Huskies some much-needed confidence against the defending champs.Battle Mountain bolted out to a 5-0 lead in Game 2 behind serving from Lindroth, two attacks from Nichols, some cheese from Brown and a Penwill block. The Tigers quickly rallied to take the lead, but Battle Mountain absorbed the charge.
As she tends to do at the Coliseum Huskies fans remember last year’s one-game playoff against Glenwood Springs Rodrick started to put her stamp on this one. She blew a kill over the Sterling front to give the Huskies the lead at 21-20. No. 7 served up an ace and then Penwill and Lindroth gave the Huskies a 2-0 lead with a combo block.Rodrick and company erased an 8-4 Tigers lead in the final game. Rodrick served six straight points with well-placed cheese from Abbott and Brown. Up 15-9, Sterling charged again, but Penwill, Nichols and Abbot all answered the call as the first No. 1 seed of the tournament went down.With the win, Battle Mountain won Pool I. Sterling seemed undone by its loss to Battle Mountain falling to Pool II Champion, Mountain View, in three games. Palisade?After a high-charged match against Sterling, the Huskies made short work of Cheyenne Mountain. The Huskies toppled the No. 2 team in 4A, 25-14, 25-13, 25-13. If Huskies fans could somehow forget they were at the Coliseum, they might have mistaken the match for an average Battle Mountain-Palisade game, given the Indians’ purple jerseys.
Lindroth and Rodrick continued the Huskies’ stellar defensive effort with 14 digs each. Abbot and Penwill each had eight blocks. Lindroth and Nichols topped the Huskies with eight kills, sending Battle Mountain to the championship match. Extra hitsOne might have argued with the order of the seeding at 4A, but there was no argument as far as who were the top-four teams in 4A. CHSAA seeded Sterling, Cheyenne Mountain, Mountain View and Battle Mountain Nos. 1-4, and all four breezed through pool play without losing a game. … Both semifinals went in three games each. Battle Mountain, as a result, had a five-hour pause between the semifinal and the final. … Rodrick was sporting an ice pack between the semis and the finals. She got kneed in the jaw by Penwill against Cheyenne Mountain. There are no hard feelings between the two. … The title game was preceded by the March of Champions as all 10 finalists in the five classifications were introduced. … Other state champions: 5A Eaglecrest; 3A Colorado Springs Christian; 2A Hoehne and 1A Kit Carson.. Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.