Regionals the end of the road for Vail Valley spikers
This isn’t how it was meant to go.
Eagle County had three teams in regionals Saturday. Eagle Valley was at Roosevelt for 4A Region C, while 2A Vail Christian and Vail Mountain were assembled in Palisade.
The Devils were 1-2, as were the Saints while the Gore Rangers went 0-3, dashing hopes of state berth locally.
It’s progress, but it’s painful.
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Eagle Valley was competitive in its second attempt at 4A regionals in as many years. After an 0-3 trip last year, the 2009 Devils got on the board, winning their opener in four against Greeley West.
Then came the surprise as No. 6 Eagle Valley fell to No. 14 Pueblo West. As it turned out, Pueblo West played the role of Cinderella, and is going to state. That put the Devils in a must-win situation against host and No. 3-ranked Roosevelt. The Devils took the first game against the Roughriders and nearly snagged Game 4 before falling.
“The thing we talked about is that this was still a successful season,” said Devils coach Shawn Weatherred, whose team finished 20-6 and repeated as 4A Slope champions. “I think we’re only the fourth team from Eagle Valley to go to regionals. The positive for the program is that we played so well against Roosevelt. We could walk out of there proud that we battled them.”
Paige Genelin, Jaclyn Taylor and Jamie Bair made their senior farewells with the tournament.
In the end at 2A regionals in Palisade, Vail Christian was rooting for Vail Mountain.
The Saints needed the Gore Rangers to beat Mancos in the final match of the day to force a playoff. So Vail Christian’s players, fans and coaches were right behind the VMS bench, rooting for their usual archrivals.
“It was kind of funny,” VMS coach Mike Garvey said. “I joked with (Vail Christian coach) Cathy (Alexander) and her husband (Charlie), that after rooting for us, the next they know all their girls would be playing for us next year.”
VMS gave it a valiant effort overcoming a 2-0 deficit before bowing in five, 25-17, 25-19, 18-25, 19-25, 15-12, a loss which knocked out both the Gore Rangers and Saints.
VMS started the day with a 18-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-22 loss to Dolores. Then the Gore Rangers fell to Vail Christian in four in the third meeting of the season between the teams.
With an 0-3 performance at regionals, VMS finished the season at 15-12. The Gore Rangers can still hang their collective hat on the way they struggled through the early season with the flu, only to come out with a district title last weekend in Meeker.
“It was a great environment and those are the best three teams we’ve seen this year,” Garvey said. “For the team even to give itself a chance at regionals was amazing. They’re still district champs and they’ll carry that with them for the rest of their lives.”
Seniors Brigitta Gehl, Cynthia Edgerton, Holly Domke. Hilarie Bellis, Kathryn Conlin, Betsy Batts, Katie Dove and Meredith White all made their final volleyball appearances for VMS.
Vail Christian’s magical season ended just one short of the state tournament Saturday.
After starting the season as an afterthought in the 2A Slope race, the Saints won the league and went 1-2 in Saturday’s regional tournament.
The Saints started the day with a four-set loss to Mancos, but rebounded with its third win of the season against VMS, this time by a count of 16-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-9.
Vail Christian, however, could not bounce back, facing Dolores in the following match, a 25-18, 25-21, 25-17 loss. That left Vail Christian rooting for VMS to beat Mancos to force a three-way tie at 1-2.
“If we had taken care of our own end, we wouldn’t have had to worry about it,” Alexander said.
Nonetheless, it was a spectacular season for Vail Christian (20-5).
“I know how good of year it was. I don’t know if (the players) know yet,” Alexander said. “Not bad for the second year at 2A. What I told the seniors was that they were an integral prat of building a program here.”
The Vail Christian seniors are Brooke Bowles, Beri Dwyer, Meghan Jacobs and Hannah Vancuren.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.