Huskies sweep past Gore Rangers
EDWARDS – Don’t book the hotels around the Denver Coliseum yet for the second weekend of November quite yet, but Battle Mountain volleyball may be turning the corner after a three-year slumber.
The Huskies made believers of the Vail Mountain School Tuesday, winning the first round of two internecine battles, 25-13, 25-13, 26-24, in Edwards.
“Much more rounded,” Huskies coach Jason Fitzgerald said. “It’s not just our seniors who are contributing, but the sophomores have stepped up after being elevated to the varsity team, and then our juniors continue to be the anchor.”
One of those juniors is LaRose Currie. Already well-known as a fierce hitter, she’s become a blur when so goes over the net. But she wasn’t alone Tuesday night Sophomores Mackenzie Ellison and Emily Clinton were pounding down kills, giving Battle Mountain setter Maddie Perkins plenty of options.
“There’s a lot of pressure, but, at the same time, it’s a lot of fun because you feel great when you set and they get a kill. You think “I helped in that,'” Perkins said. “I just have to go with what I feel at the moment. If the middle is coming in, I feel, ‘OK, we’re going to get this one.’ And I set the middle. But if it’s out of system I set the outside, because that’s the safest place, but it’s in the moment.”
Working on defense
And, just a little more than a year after he took over the team, coach Fitzgerald is seeing his team play defense. While VMS did not have a strong-hitting game Tuesday, the Gore Rangers had a hard time finding the court when their shots were good.
“It’s a marked improvement from last year when I arrived,” Fitzgerald said. “They’ve committed to working on it and that all I can ask.”
That’s where seniors Lindsey Huttrer, Allison Bossow and Molly Childers were key.
“We’ve gone from playing all around with a majority of our players to substituting defensive specialists, trying to play a faster tempo, so that my offense can be faster,” Fitzgerald said. “When (the offense) is in the front row, my defense can be fresher in the back row. That’s where my seniors have paid off.”
Whether this will pay off down the road, only time will tell. Battle Mountain (2-1) opens league play Thursday at Summit County, and has big matches looming next week against Glenwood Springs and Eagle Valley.
Meanwhile, for VMS, it was a frustrating evening which coach Mike Garvey will file under the category of a learning experience.
“I think they were excited to play,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a match where you play a lot of friends. They want to do well. Maybe, it was one of those things where you’ve set some expectations and you’ve got to live up to them I think Battle Mountain came out real well and, maybe, we didn’t expect that.
“A lot of credit to them. They came out and played extremely well. It was great to see them play well. Unfortunately, we didn’t respond. But we talked as a team. We had some players we count on, and they didn’t play well tonight. That’s OK. At this point, we learn from it.”
Most notable were nine serving errors from VMS in Game 3. That’s a killer in an game, much less one decided by two points.
VMS (1-1) hosts Paonia Friday night. The Huskies and the Gore Rangers meet again in East Vail Sept. 25.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.