Regional time for Huskies spikers
EAGLE-VAIL – Go east, young ladies.Battle Mountain volleyball, now a 4A program, is at regionals Saturday for the first time since 1998 when the Huskies were at 3A. Battle Mountain drew the fifth seed and is in Region D at Greeley West.So it’s time for the Huskies to bone up on their Whig Party and Civil War history – Horace Greeley guaranteed bail for Confederate President Jefferson Davis – not mind the cows, and most importantly, grab one of the two state berths up for grabs.”It’s a really good accomplishment,” outside hitter Sofia Lindroth said. “We haven’t done it since 1998 when we were 3A. We’re really excited about it, but we’re looking to go on hopefully. You can’t get stuck on the fact that you won districts. You want to keep going.””Last year, we got knocked out pretty fast in districts,” middle blocker Devon Abbott said. “To be first in districts and get a good seed, we just hope we can go further.”Battle Mountain (21-2) plays Montezuma-Cortez (16-7) at 8 a.m., Thompson Valley (11-12) roughly at 11 and Greeley West (20-3) at about 1 p.m. The top-two teams from pool play punch their tickets to the 4A state tourney Nov. 11-12 at the Denver Coliseum.The seed and the plan
Battle Mountain does have a beef when it comes to its seed. Only two teams, Sterling and Mountain View, besides Battle Mountain won both their league title and their district title. Sterling at 23-0 is rightly the No. 1 seed hosting Region A. Mountain View (21-2) hosts Region B.The Huskies did the same as these two teams and have an equally impressive 21-2 mark, but didn’t crack the top-four to be a host site.”It’s a good chance to prove who we are,” Lindroth said. “We know we can really play well. We really want that.”Chalk it up to the fact that seeding is political and reputation means a lot in the process. Until this year, Battle Mountain volleyball hasn’t been on the state’s radar for a while.”It’s disappointing to think that maybe they don’t think our record’s that good or maybe our competition is that good,” Huskies coach Brian Doyon said. “But there are three teams (Glenwood Springs and Palisade also) from our league going to regionals. So, we’re doing something right. Our competition’s very good. The way volleyball’s being played is very good. Am I upset about the ranking? No. Who cares? We still have to go up there and play good volleyball to advance.”So, Coach, any change of plans for regionals?”We don’t change anything,” he said. “We continue to do what we’re doing. Why would you change what we’re doing? What we’re doing is working for us. The girls are playing very well. Everything is going well. As long as they keep their confidence up and knowing in their hearts that they’re doing a great job, then they’re fine.”We’ll take that as a no.
The fieldBattle Mountain expects a battle Saturday. When 4A gets pared down to 16 teams in four four-team regions, the quality of play will be high. “All these teams have gotten as far as we have,” Abbott said. “They’re all pretty much the same level as we are. We can’t overlook any of them because we’re starting at a new level and meeting new teams. We don’t know who’ve they’d played and whom they won against. So you can’t judge a team by their record.”This principle would apply to Thompson Valley. The Eagles don’t look impressive with an 11-12 record, but they’re one of those sleeper teams. Thompson went 5-10 in the strong Northern League, but got hot at districts, knocking off Conifer, Evergreen and Greeley Central before losing to Mountain View in the District 2 final.For the record, Thompson lost to Greeley Central in five in the regular season and beat the Wildcats in three in districts. Battle Mountain swept Greeley Central in the second game of the season.The one thing the Huskies know about Cortez, their first opponent, is that the Panthers definitely have the longest road trip in the history of high school volleyball. Cortez was 5-5 in the 5A Southwestern Conference. The Panthers are a traditionally strong postseason team and have state appearances on their resume. Cortez has played Grand Junction Central twice. The Panthers won in four in September and lost in three in October. The Huskies suffered one of their only two losses to Central in September.
Host, Greeley West, looks very strong. The Spartans finished third in the highly touted Northern League, whose teams are hosting three of the four 4A regionals (Sterling and Mountain View). Greeley West beat Greeley Central in four and took Thompson Valley in five in league play.The Spartans also met up with Moffat County in districts and topped the Bulldogs in four. Battle Mountain got a four-game win over the Bulldogs at The Dog Pound and swept them in Craig.”It’s going to be a very challenging pool,” Doyon said. “We’re going to have a very similar matchups. I wouldn’t be surprised if all three of our matches go to five games, wouldn’t surprise me at all.”And that brings Battle Mountain back to its District 8 title match against Widefield last weekend. The Huskies, after a long day, went five games with Widefield, finally putting away the Gladiators.Widefield led, 2-1, and the Huskies were teetering, but rallied to win Games 4 and 5. That should prove a valuable lesson for Saturday’s matches.”We couldn’t let up,” Lindroth said. “We knew this was the time had to put everything out on the line because it was determining the seeding. We wanted to get in the best position as possible for regionals. So we just had to fight it out.””It’s just a matter of calming down and playing our game and staying focused,” Sydney Nichols said. “Sometimes, we might lose focus a little bit. But for the most part if we get in a hole, we just refocus and get our heads in the game.”
There is no next yearA lot of the talk surrounding the Battle Mountain volleyball team this year has been the fact that no one is graduating. They’re all juniors and sophomores. The Huskies’ faithful has been giddy about this year’s success and murmuring, “How good is this team going to be next year when they’re seniors?”Doyon wants none of that. Next year is this year as far as he is concerned.”You don’t plan for next year when your in the middle of this year,” Doyon said. “You’ve got to take care of business now. What we do next year, we’ve got six months before we start thinking about next year.”The Huskies have set a school record with 21 wins – the 1998 team won 20 – and they want to add to that total by the end of next week.”You’ve just got to think of it like it’s the end of the season and we were talking today about it in school. We don’t want this to be our last home practice,” Nichols said. “We don’t want our season to be over because we’re such a tight group of people and we enjoy playing with each other. We don’t want it to end.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado