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Huskies spikers host district tournamnet Saturday

Preston Utley/Vail DailyFrom left to right Nicole Penwill, Crystin Rodrick, Britney Brown, and Sofia Lindroth celebrate after the Huskies score a point.
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EAGLE-VAIL ” Saturday is going to be a lollapalooza sort of day for Battle Mountain sports.

The soccer team hosts Round 2 against Cheyenne Mountain, tentatively scheduled for noon. Cell phones will be humming from Eagle-Vail to Colorado Springs to check out what cross country is doing at state.

And Huskies volleyball is getting in on the act as it hosts the District 8 Volleyball tournament, the first postseason volleyball in the Dog Pound since 1998.



“I think the kids are definitely feeding off each other,” Huskies volleyball coach Brian Doyon said. “The coaches are very excited for the kids. It’s great to have a new administration that really takes the time to close school and have them go out and watch (Tuesday’s) soccer game. Those are very good things. It’s a new environment here in Battle Mountain sports and I hope it continues through the winter and spring sports.”

But before we get to boys basketball and girls soccer, the spikers would like to keep playing for three more weekends. It starts with the District 8 Tournament Saturday.

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Battle Mountain will play two pool games ” Mesa Ridge at 8:30 and Steamboat Springs, roughly at 11 a.m. The top two teams from each pool advance to crossover play at 1:15 p.m. The final is at 4 p.m. The top-two teams from the district advance to regionals.

Welcome to the Dog Pound

By virtue of winning the 4A Slope, the Huskies (17-2) earned the right to host this tournament. No slouch on the road, but Battle Mountain is 10-0 in the Dog Pound and has lost just three games in the friendly confines.



“It’s amazing. I like it,” right-outside hitter Crystin Rodrick said. “Freshmen year, we took fifth. Last year, we were third and we really wanted to get that first so that we’d get that home court advantage.”

With that comes a bunch a screaming soccer players, who will be momentarily absent for their game against the Indians, loud parents and supportive members of the local volleyball community.

“It’s a great feeling,” setter Britney Brown said. “Hosting is a big opportunity and we’re really excited. We’re used to our court and the crowd hopefully will be good. They’re a loud crowd when they’re here.”

No worries, Ms. Brown, they’ll be there.

Pool play

Battle Mountain has a good draw in pool play. The Huskies start with Mesa Ridge at 8:30 a.m. (As a note, both pools will be playing simultaneously in main gym and the auxiliary gym. The Huskies will always be playing in the main gym.)

The Grizzlies are the sixth seed out of the Colorado Springs Metro. They were 2-8 in the conference and 7-12 overall.

“They’ve played some good teams,” Doyon said. “They’ve played some tough teams. I’m not looking past them. We’ve got to take care of business right away from the start. Hopefully, it’s a team we match up well with.”

Opponent No. 2 (roughly at 11 a.m.) is no stranger. The Huskies will welcome back Steamboat for the teams’ third meeting of the year. Battle Mountain won in three on the road and in four last week in Eagle-Vail.

“We don’t change anything. We stick to our system,” Doyon said. “We just have to play it well. It’s very simple. We have to serve and pass well and put up our defense. As soon as we have an opportunity to put the ball down, we do it.”

Yet, this is a rivalry. These players meet twice per year in the Slope and often play with and against each other in club.

“It’s going to be tough,” Rodrick said. “They’re going to know what we’re up to. They know what our favorite shots are. But it’s the same with us. We know them. We’ll know their weaknesses and their strengths.”

“That’s an advantage because we’ve already seen them play,” Brown said. “We know what to expect from them unlike the other teams. The other teams, we don’t know how they play, so I’m excited for Steamboat.”

Into the unknown

If the tournament breaks to form, Pueblo Centennial (12-5) and Widefield (15-4) will emerge from the other side for crossover play in that order. Pueblo East (4-14), the final team in the other pool, doesn’t figure to put up much of a fight.

Widefield is a likely opponent, but Pueblo Centennial could fall down to the two spot and play Battle Mountain. Whoever it is, it will be a battle.

“They’re very good teams. That’s going to be a very difficult game,” Doyon said. “Some of the teams they’ve lost to are good teams. They know how to fight. Just like I say when we go to Glenwood, we expect a battle and we have to prepare for it.”

The crossover game, set for 1:15 p.m., is the big one. Win that and a team clinches a regional berth. The final at 4 p.m. is for regional seeding.

Doyon and company don’t know what to expect if they reach crossover play. The Huskies will draw on their club experience for that.

“It’s just like club,” Rodrick said. “You don’t know what players a team has. If you see that they’re a scrappy team, you’re going to have to adjust to it. You play with them the first half of the game and you can spot out what they’re like.”

There’s also the unknown of districts. Strange things can happen. Teams can get hot. Good teams can fall flat.

“Last year, Glenwood had an OK season, but did really well at regionals,” Doyon said. “Steamboat did really well during the season and didn’t perform really well at districts, barely got into regionals and lost in regionals. Glenwood went on to state. You never know.”

What the Huskies do know is that they’re rested and have had a good week of practice, including a scrimmage with Vail Mountain Tuesday. This is the team’s first week off since the beginning of the season ” and the Huskies needed it.

“This week is good. We all go to bed early now,” Brown said. “There isn’t a game that ends at 8:30 (p.m.) and then you have to start homework. It’s good to be relaxed.”

“Actually. for the girls to have focused time this year makes us very well prepared,” Doyon said. “They’re going to be very focused. They’re going to know that they’ve had a lot of good skill work. We’ve been working on different drills. This is going to be the best prepared they’ve been all year.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

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