Huskies fall twice in five games
DENVER ” It was a very long day Friday for Battle Mountain volleyball that ended up just not being long enough.
The Huskies started the day at 9 a.m. with a five-game loss to No. 3 Regis, 25-20, 32-34, 19-25, 25-23, 15-11. After a nearly eight-hour break between matches, No. 2 Cheyenne Mountain dashed Battle Mountain’s hopes of making today’s semifinals and repeating as state champion, handing the Huskies an even narrower 22-25, 26-16, 25-27, 25-22, 15-12.
Battle Mountain has one more game today at 9:30 a.m. at the Denver Coliseum against Cherokee Trail to wrap pool play, but the curtain fell, for all intents and purposes, on 2007 Friday night.
“It’s hard. It actually hits you,” senior Kori Landauer said while understandably weeping. “I know that we have one more game tomorrow, but it hits you that you won’t be able to step back out on the court. I think it’s good to know that we left it out all on the court. I guess that makes it easier.”
In time, hopefully, it will, but on the floor of the Coliseum on Friday night, the scene was parents doing whatever they could to lift the spirits of their daughters.
“We went for it, and we got here,” Huskies setter Alexa Corcoran said. “It just slipped by, and it proves who wanted it more, who the better team was. When we needed to put balls down, we weren’t doing it, and they were. That’s how it goes.”
While Battle Mountain might want to have a few moments back from the morning’s match against Regis, the Huskies just ended up losing to two very solid teams.
In the nightcap, Cheyenne Mountain picked up a little revenge for getting knocked off by the Huskies in last year’s semifinals.
“Knocked out is an understatement. They kicked our butt last year,” Cheyenne coach David Barkley. “They were so good. Battle Mountain played an amazingly good match. We were fortunate to play as well as we did to take it. I know for the seniors it means everything to continue the season.”
Despite a long wait to play the Indians ” only one match in Friday’s 4A tournament was a sweep as opposed to last year’s opening session when every game went three and out ” the Huskies came out much sharper than they did against Regis.
After understandably being a little awed in their first state outing earlier in the morning, the younger players did a nice job of stepping up to the challenge. Annalisa Padget pounded down three straight kills during a great serving run from Corcoran. The Huskies ran out to a 9-5 lead, and Jen Thul’s serving, along with a healthy dose of Devon Abbott and Padget, sealed the win.
After being steamrolled in the second, the Huskies bounced back well for a 2-1 match lead in the third game. In addition to the usual suspects ” Abbott, Thul and Landauer ” Ellison stepped into the spotlight, giving Battle Mountain a 14-11 lead.
The Indians rallied to force the game past 25 points, but the Huskies held on with kills from Thul and Abbott.
“We had a big talk after the first match and said that this is a team,” Corcoran said. “For us four seniors, it was our last time here, and for everyone, it could be their only time here. So we wanted to make the most of it. I think everyone realized that, took it into their hands and made it happen.”
The Huskies nearly pulled it out in four games, storming back from a 22-14 deficit with superb serving from Padget, who more than atoned for a few miscues in this department against Regis.
Down, 23-21, Thul appeared to pull Battle Mountain within one point with a tip. But after a lengthy conversation, the officiating crew ruled a replay, and the Indians took the game, forcing the second 15-point finale of the day. Huskies coach Brian Doyon, while not speaking on the record about the officiating, was somewhat distressed about the replay call.
In the fifth, the Huskies jumped out to a 3-1 lead and were tied as late as eight before the Indians simply proved too much up front.
With just four players who experienced the circus that is the state tournament at the Coliseum last year, the Huskies showed some noticeable jitters, but more troublesome was their serving. Battle Mountain started the final game with two errors from behind the line and had three service miscues in all in the final stanza.
“Three service errors in game to 15 (points), that’s a six-point difference,” Doyon said. “Coming to a new arena, you are going to have service errors. The ball travels a little bit different down here than it does up (in Eagle-Vail). The emotions are there. The crowd is there. The spatial relationships they have, those cues they serve to, aren’t there anymore in the normal gym. You’re going to expect some service errors. In a Game 5, no. You should be over your jitters.”
After dropping the first game, Battle Mountain was down, 17-10, in the second. The Huskies rallied behind their seniors in a big way in what would be a dramatic Game 2.
Abbott pounded down one of her match-high 23 kills to start the rally. Thul promptly ripped off eight straight points from behind the line with kills from Padget and Abbott.
The Huskies erased deficits of 19-17, 20-18 and 22-20 to tie the game at 23. And then, the game seesawed back and forth. The Raiders and Huskies were knotted at 25, 26, 27 and 28. In a bizarre sequence, Regis’ Nicole Riedel served her ball out, giving the Huskies a 29-28 lead only to see Abbott return the favor.
The Huskies forced sideout for a 30-29 advantage, and then Padget promptly coughed up a serving error.
“It’s like, ‘Dammit, thank you, dammit, thank you,'” Abbott joked.
Thul crushed one down to tie it at 31 and did it again from the left side to even things at 32. Ellison served the final two points of the epic. The Huskies got the lead for good with a beautiful dig from Padget, which Thul converted. The Raiders’ Morgan Klukkert put her attack into the net to even the match at one.
“That’s the state nerves and the fact that it’s 30-29 or 30-30,” Thul said. “It was really exciting. It was a good game, and I think it helped us get our momentum for the third game.”
Battle Mountain looked like it would run with the momentum from the second stanza. Landauer had a big run from behind the line with seven points. After a Padget kill and a block from Thul, the Huskies led, 13-5, and cruised.
While service errors in Game 5 were a killer, Battle Mountain had an opportunity to win the match in four. The Huskies led, 13-11, in Game 4, but sloppy passing, as the Huskies displayed in Game 1, did them in.
Ellison served up an ace to tie it at 22. Regis coach Laura Dunston burned a good timeout to stop Battle Mountain’s momentum.
The Raiders rallied behind blocks from Kristina Lavrisha and Riedel. After an Abbott kill, the Raiders’ Taylor Robles forced the fifth game with a block.
In the finale, the Huskies undermined themselves with serving errors from Ellison, Thul and Landauer and never recovered.
“I hate Game 5. It’s a crap shoot,” Doyon said. “If you don’t come out and play strong right away, you find yourself in a big hole.”
“We needed to get our serves in and get a run and capitalize,” Thul said. “Those errors killed our momentum.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.