New-look Huskies take Coal Ridge in three
EDWARDS — Battle Mountain volleyball is very much in that stage where all players should be wearing tags that read, “Hello, my name is …”
However, the Huskies ran into a team in a similar situation — Coal Ridge — in their season opener on Tuesday night and dispatched the Titans, 25-15, 25-19, 25-17.
“We’ve had to go back to some of the basics and fundamentally re-establish our system at Battle Mountain,” Huskies coach Jason Fitzgerald said. “They’ve been terrific about trying to absorb it as quickly as possible. It’s turning out to be an interesting learning process.”
While everyone’s happy that Huskies alumni have moved on to college and other enterprises, Battle Mountain’s graduated a ton of talent after the past two seasons. One sees the No. 6 jersey walk by, and that really should be Mackenzie Ellison. First, No. 6 is now Avery Weaver and she wears it well. Second, that would be Coach Mack to you.
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Madame Ellison is an assistant coach for this year’s edition.
And while Ellison, Maddie Perkins, Emily Clinton and Taylor Anderson, to name a few, aren’t in uniform, the good news is that Jordan Brandt’s still got her No. 4.
“I’ve definitely been looking forward to today for a few weeks,” Brandt said. “It’s a great feeling. I love every part of being out on the court in the gym. It’s amazing wearing the Husky uniform for the last year.”
It was apparent to even people who know nothing about volleyball that she was the best player on the floor on Tuesday. When the rotation took Brandt up front, there was no question to whom the Huskies were going to pass.
And the ball went down with authority.
Brandt is one of three seniors on the squad, along with Abby Davidson and Jessica Sullivan. They will need to lead early on and they did on Tuesday.
No. 6, Weaver, got the Huskies going in the first game. She served them up and Brandt put them down during a seven-point rally that gave Battle Mountain a 15-8 lead.
Libero Haley Frischholz, who gained valuable varsity experience filling in for Perkins at setter last fall, also got going from behind the line and the Huskies were on their way.
Valenta Montenegro, an exchange student, put down the last point of the first and served the Huskies out to an early lead in the second. Sullivan and Lilly DeMuth combined on a big block to make it 13-8. Coal Ridge (0-2) tied it at 16 in the middle stanza, but Brandt rampaged and all was well.
In the finale, Weaver served up three aces and Brandt broke an 8-8 tie with an ace of her own. Sarah Sullivan, Montenegro, Davidson and Taylor Keep all had their moments as the Huskies finished off the Titans.
Fitzgerald said the key was tempo. When the Huskies had it, things went well. The key for future matches is maintaining tempo.
That will be important for Thursday when Montrose comes to town. The Huskies and Indians are a usual preseason fixture and the two teams also met at state last season.
“I can’t wait to get back on the court with Montrose again,” Brandt said. “It’s been a long four years.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.