Impressive season comes to an end for Devils volleyball
GYPSUM – At the beginning of the season, Eagle Valley volleyball coach Karl Talcott said that, although he knew his squad had a lot of potential, this would be a rebuilding season for the program.
The Devils impressed everyone by not only rebuilding a team which had lost five starters to graduation, but contending and dominating the 3A Western Slope.
Eagle Valley ended its season with a 22-5 record, and all of its losses were hard-fought battles with teams ranked in the top eight.
Having said that, the Devils went into their regional, round-robin playoffs Saturday with high expectations. They defeated Ignacio in their first match with relative ease – 25-8, 25-21, 27-29, 25-21 – but lost the final two matches to fall short of a return trip to the state tournament.
Junior sensation Kenzie Shreeve led the team with 35 kills, and senior captain Trista Sandoval added 10.
Setter Whitney Donohue had 48 assists and four aces in the match.
“We were supposed to be rebuilding this year, and we’re only losing one senior,” said Donohue. “I’m excited for next year; just to see us play. We’re so young, and we have a lot to look forward to.”
Yuma beat the Devils in Eagle Valley’s second match of the day – 25-23, 25-14, 23-25, 25-23.
After losing the first two games, the Devils were riled.
Devils middle blocker Mandy Fischer came out firing. Responsible for three straight points, Fischer pushed the Devils out to an early 6-4 lead.
The match remained close the rest of the way. Sandoval scored a key point on an unreturnable serve, giving the Devils their first lead – 21-20 – since single digits.
After a series of poor serves from both teams, Shreeve put the game away with a powerful kill. The Devils won, 25-23.
The Devils shot out to a 5-1 lead behind the serves of Sandoval, and they held the lead until Yuma tied the game up at 13.
The Devils pushed ahead again, but Yuma stayed on their tails, winning the match on the coattails of Heather Armagost and Mandy Vick.
“It was a tough day. Yuma and Eaton both come from a very good league,” said Talcott. “Yuma came out firing, forcing key mistakes. They had good hitters, and we thought if we could have survived the fourth game, we would have wonGame 5. But, we folded down the stretch.”
Giant, athletic, with huge hitters, Eaton’s team looked as menacing as they come, but the Devils gave the Reds their best shot, losing in four games – 25-16, 25-14, 25-27, 25-21.
“I can’t say enough about the spirit of this team,” said Talcott. “Eaton is ranked No. 2 in state, and we didn’t lay down and die. We put ourselves in position to win Games 3 and 4. The kids played tough.”
In the third game, It took a monster kill from Shreeve, which put the Devils up, 20-15, for the Eagle Valley fans to get on their feet and turn up the volume to the level their team deserved.
Eaton fought back to take a 25-24 lead, but Devils junior Kelli Verderber struck back with a kill and a block.
And, like a true captain, Sandoval found the open spot in the Eaton defense for a game-winning kill.
“I think we played our hearts out against very good teams,” said Donohue. “It was exciting to play teams that good. I think it was a very successful season.”
Andrew Harley can be contacted at (970) 949-0555 ext. 610 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.