Huskies lose state opener
DENVER ” It’s deja vu all over again for Battle Mountain volleyball.
The No. 6 Huskies lost their 4A state tournament opener to No. 3 Regis, 25-20, 32-34, 19-25, 25-23, 15-11. Battle Mountain takes on No. 2 Cheyenne Mountain later Friday as Pool II play continues at the Denver Coliseum.
The Huskies have a little experience falling behind the 8-ball, having lost their opener to Montrose at the Region D Tournament last weekend before rallying for two wins and a state berth.
“Everyone needs to relax and know that this isn’t the end of the road,” Battle Mountain setter Alexa Corcoran said. “We have a lot more opportunities ahead, just like we did a regionals. We’ve come back from this before. We can do it again.”
“The girls hopefully will come out and understand their backs are to the wall and play volleyball from the very start,” Huskies coach Brian Doyon said. “They’ve got to come out and play, rather than take their time working into a match. It just has to be intense.”
With just four players who experienced the circus that is the state tournament at 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 and what would be a dramatic Game 2.
Devon Abbott pounded down one of her match-high 23 kills to start the rally. Jen Thul promptly ripped off eight-straight points from behind the line with kills from Analisa 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 see-sawed 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 at 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. Sophomore Hannah 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. Kori 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 a 22. Regis coach Laura Dunston burned a good timeout to stop Battle Mountain’s momentum.
The Raiders rallied behind a 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 crapshoot,” 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.”
And now, Battle Mountain faces what it likely a must-win situation against Cheyenne Mountain in a rematch of last year’s semifinal match.
“I think everyone looks at their stats, and sees where they can improve on and has some reflection time,” Corcoran said. “We can come together as a team and rally back.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at (970) 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.