Huskies spikers hungry for more
EAGLE-VAIL ” The Battle Mountain volleyball team may have gone all the way to the state semifinals last year. The entire team be returning this year. And they may be ranked No. 2 in the 4A by the Rocky Mountain News.
But Huskies coach Bryan Doyon doesn’t think it matters.
“I think you’ve gotta keep it in perspective,” Doyon said. “A whole bunch of expectations and predictions will get you nothing. You’ve gotta go out there and prove it. I’m not too worried about what people are saying. I’m more worried about what we are doing.”
And what, exactly, are the Huskies doing?
Well, Battle Mountain usually ends practice 30 minute late. And then, some of the senior girls will ask their coaches to stay for another half hour to get in some extra hits.
“Everything we do is a little more,” Doyon said. “We’re doing very specific training and saying, ‘Here’s what we are doing well, and here’s what we can do better.'”
After winning the league and districts last year, the Huskies are a marked squad and may need that extra push to get past all the teams looking to knock them off.
“Last year we could slip under the radar against people who didn’t know our team,” Doyon said. “Now, there will be teams that know our gaps and know our system and will be double blocking (right-side hitter) Crystin Rodrick and things like that. We know what we do. Now can we adapt to something different and play well and beat a team that tries to take us out of our game?”
So when the opposition looks to shut down the Huskies’ 5-1 offense (one setter and five hitters), there are a few other options available.
“If they play (setter) Britney Brown, well, then I have Britney as an offensive weapon and Crystin as my setter,” Doyon said.
Or, the Huskies can move into a 6-2 system where both Brown and Rodrick come from the back row and set, and the hitters would be up front.
“It’s nice to have this much talent on a team,” Doyon said.
Sofia Lindroth, Sidney Nichols and Sarah Simmons will provide the power on the left side, while Nicole Penwill and Devon Abbott will be the threats in the middle.
And Doyon is also excited to have plenty of defensive options with this year’s full usage of the libero (defensive specialist). Last year the libero wasn’t available in the playoffs, so Doyon used the position sparingly.
“We have Annie Marcum, Kori Landauer, Kendra Havlik and Allie O’Connor,” Doyon said.
Jennifer Thul will also be up on varsity this year, getting some time off the bench.
Penwill thinks it’s great to have such a skilled team and appreciates how it all comes together to have a well-rounded squad.
“Every team you play brings something different, and it’s important to have flexibility,” Penwill said. “That’s what we are continually trying to work on ” to be strong and balanced between defense and offense.”
Even with all of last year’s success, Doyon knew that there would be plenty of experience to gain for the squad absent of seniors.
“We built the team for this year where we knew we’d have a lot of experience,” Doyon said.
Last year at state, the Huskies had a rough first day but rallied to advance to the semifinals, where they were the only team to take a set from winner Sterling.
“It was our first time there, and it’s really scary when you step on the court,” Brown said of the team’s state experience.
And though the Huskies lost few matches last year, they don’t expect perfection this time around.
“We find that losing, like when we lost to (5A) Grand Junction Central, was a big motivation after,” Rodrick said.
Doyon beefed up the Huskies’ non-league schedule to include Doherty, Thomas Jefferson and Montbello in addition to Grand Junction.
“We like the high competition,” Brown said.
Still, nobody on Battle Mountain expects the 4A Western Slope to be easy.
“There’s going to be some good battles this year, and that’s the fun part of it,” Doyon said. “We’ll have our losses and tough times, but we’ve gotta be realistic and learn from those.”
While there’s a long road ahead for the Huskies to equal and hopefully surpass what they did last year, Doyon isn’t looking that far ahead. Right now, he’s pretty happy staying after practice to hit some balls with his kids before the Huskies open at home against Summit Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
“It doesn’t come with a lot of athletes,” Doyon said. “Rather than having the coach motivate you, it’s coming from you. It’s all instinctual. And they’ve done a good job fostering that
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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