Huskies golden third time around
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE-VAIL ” Don’t be fooled by their play: Battle Mountain only makes it look that easy.
But really, winning the 4A District 7 volleyball tourney for third year in a row isn’t a piece of cake.
“Not at all,” said Battle Mountain volleyball coach Brian Doyon. “You look at where the players came from at the beginning of the season and where they were last season, and to see where they are now, it’s unbelievable.”
Where are they now?
Well, the Huskies needed the minimum 12 games to clinch this year’s district crown, just as they did last year.
“We didn’t have that sort of expectation coming in here,” said Battle Mountain middle hitter Devon Abbott. “We wanted to come in and try our best and see where that gets us. This week, we’ve been playing really hard and training really hard, and it paid off today.”
The Huskies, even without starter Kori Landauer, who injured her head practicing Friday night, were unflappable. From the relentless and resounding kills of Abbott to the solid feeds from setter Alexa Corcoran to the improbable digs of libero Kelsey Plath, Battle Mountain had no holes in its game.
“For Cara (Murbach) and Rebecca Hughes to step in and take over ” it took two players to take over (Landauer’s) job ” and they both did a great job at it. Devon’s hitting, through all four of the matches, was in the high 400’s. That’s incredible. She only had five errors the entire day. In four matches. That’s just huge. Hannah (Ellison) was serving great. Annalisa (Padgett) was continually pounding away. And in one game, Kelsey had three digs where the girl just unloaded.”
Battle Mountain cruised through pool play, taking out Fort Lupton, 25-18, 25-12, 25-11, then dismissing Mullen, 25-16, 25-21, 25-13. For the crossovers, Battle Mountain drew rival Eagle Valley, which had just come off back-to-back matches. The Devils, who had played two of their best matches all year in pool play ” beating Glenwood in four games, then losing to Rock Canyon in five games ” had about 20 minutes after the loss to switch gyms and prepare for the Huskies, who had been resting for a while.
“That’s probably the worst case scenario,” said Eagle Valley coach Rob Crawford. “You’re tired, then you come and play Battle Mountain who has only played six games and is rested.”
Battle Mountain played with plenty of energy, as did Eagle Valley, although the Huskies were just unbeatable, winning 25-11, 25-17, 25-17.
Although they are rivals, both the Huskies and Devils would have rather met in the finals.
“It’s a bummer we knocked them out,” Doyon said. “They played really well, it’s just be brought our ‘A’ game and that’s what we needed to bring.”
“I would have liked to have given them a little more of a battle, but we played our best,” Crawford said. “We’re just not used to that caliber. We see it so rarely. Battle Mountain is such a good team. They get everything up. Tipping is useless against them, where we had success with that earlier in the day.”
In the finals ” which help decide seeding for regions as both teams move on “the Huskies took big leads early in each game before the Mustangs put some points together. There was little Mullen could do, however, to stop a strong Battle Mountain attack that saw Abbott pick up a game-high 14 kills.
A tall and athletic Mullen team didn’t have a ton of luck on offense against a ubiquitous Battle Mountain block. Abbott finished with 19 total blocks, including nine solo rejections. Just about all of the Huskies got into the blocking action.
“I know Mullen came out and played well,” Abbott said. “It’s fun to know they made us work for it. Everyone on our team was playing really well and Alexa was passing really well.”
The level of play for all teams at Saturday’s districts was higher than that of last year, which makes the win a bit nicer for the Huskies.
“I’m really happy with the way our girls are playing, and happy with the way our competition is playing,” Doyon said. “I really couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Abbott, who as a sophomore three years ago never dreamed would be standing on the court Saturday with three titles, thinks Doyon is one of the big reasons.
“He does a great job making his teams work hard,” she said. “We owe a lot to him for what we’re doing.”
Sunday, the Huskies will find out their seed, and where they will be playing for regionals when rankings come out on http://www.chsaa.org.
After a slow start against Glenwood in its opening match, Eagle Valley dominated play, winning 16-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-14. Then, after a short break, the Devils took on a Rock Canyon team that beat Glenwood in five earlier in the morning.
The Devils lost the first game, 25-23, but came back and put together two air-tight games, of 25-17 and 25-18. In the fourth game, Eagle Valley fell behind, 20-16 and clawed back to 24-22, and fended off a game point, only to fall 25-23. Then, after going point-for-point with the Rock Canyon in the deciding game, the Jaguars pulled ahead to win, 15-11.
“It’s tough, the kids are such good players and good kids ” I just wish their season could have gotten to go a little further,” Crawford said. “They played a lot of volleyball today.”
Doyon, who along with his team and the Mullen squad, came over to scout the Eagle Valley-Rock Canyon matchup, thought the Devils looked great.
“They were doing everything right,” Doyon said.
Eagle Valley setter Kelsey Foster showed amazing poise at the net, tipping balls past double blocks in every way imaginable, including tennis-like lob shots to the back corner. Whitney VanVoorst, the Devils other setter, hit hard all day, beating double blocks, while Angela Phillips outjumped players several inches taller for kills and had a handful of solo blocks in most matches.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.