Prep volleyball: Watch out for the Devils … again
Vail, CO Colorado
OK, we had two volleyball teams go to state last year. Both teams graduated a bunch, so they should be down, right?
Hang on a sec, please.
Class, it is time to open your history books because the 2006 Battle Mountain volleyball team is our topic today on many levels. (Happy fifth anniversary, ladies, by the way.) What happened the year after is somewhat interesting, and that why I’m bringing it up, Eagle Valley.
Those Huskies lost five starters from that team – Devon Abbott was the only returnee. The 2007 Battle Mountain team ended up winning the Slope and returning to state. That’s because loaded teams, like the 2006 Huskies and 2010 Devils, usually have a good supporting cast. All the backups on that Battle Mountain team had spent the previous two years practicing against the state champs and turned out to be pretty darn good in their own right.
Now we fast-forward to 2011. The Devils are coming off the best season in school history – 27-3, league title, district title, regional championship and state-semifinal appearance. Yes, graduation was painful, but some girl named Alex Lassa is coming back. She’s not exactly chopped liver. (In fact, the outside hitter who scatters opponents is verbally-ommitted to Rutgers.)
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There’s also Kelsey Van Goey, who is completely under-rated. The young lady can do a lot from tattooing the ball into submission to setting to defense. Devils coach Shawn Weatherred also did a nice job of working his bench into games last year – Maddie McGinty and Erin Burnett, to name a few.
Don’t buy your tickets quite yet for Denver in November, but my bet is that the Devils are right there in the hunt for another 4A Slope title, and that they’ll be making some noise at districts and regionals, at least.
Saints and Gore Rangers
In 2A, Vail Christian is in a similar situation to that of Eagle Valley. Perhaps the Saints have more returning because they have their senior three – Kylie Alexander, McKenzie O’Brien and Ashlyn Gruber. (This is going to be a big year for this trio in many sports, people.)
A school like Vail Christian doesn’t have the depth of an Eagle Valley, but some pieces are there – Paris Baker, to the white-courtesy phone, please. Bottom line is that any coach wouldn’t mind starting the season with the aforementioned three.
Reports of Vail Christian’s demise in 2011 will be premature.
Oh, by the way, Vail Christian’s 2A rival, Vail Mountain, didn’t graduate anybody. And the Gore Rangers have one of the best players in the valley regardless of classification in Ellen Edgerton. VMS could be an interesting team to watch.
VMS doesn’t shy away from playing big schools, so we’ll get to see the Gore Rangers play 4A Battle Mountain this year. That serves as our transition to Huskies volleyball.
Let’s play nicely, children, and let’s lower the bar of expectation a little bit.
Returning to our 2006 Battle Mountain theme, that was a glorious team. It was also the exception to the rule. It’s extremely rare when everything falls into place as it did that year with the players, the coach, the talent level and the willingness to work.
The fact is that was a great team not only because its members specialized in volleyball, but also because the talent level of that group was just so much higher than an average high school team.
I don’t care if a kid plays for six club teams and goes to 1,000 volleyball camps. Right now, it’s doesn’t appear that anyone at Battle Mountain is going Division I. So let’s stop taking it out on the coach and focus on the task of playing high-school volleyball and the values it should impart – teamwork, accountability to your teammates and self-discipline.
Regardless of wins and losses, that will be a successful season for Battle Mountain.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.