Saints down Gore Rangers in five
EAST VAIL ” Today is likely a quiet day in the classrooms of Vail Christian and the Vail Mountain School.
Nobody probably has a voice left after Tuesday’s thriller at The Garven which the Saints won 26-24, 12-25, 25-8, 25-27, 15-9. So much for the theory that this rivalry would cool with the Gore Rangers and Saints meeting as nonconference foes.
“It was the best,” Saints coach Cathy Alexander said. “It was a lot of strategy, a lot of hard work. We needed a game like that. We kind of cruised through several matches without having much of a test.”
“I’m really pleased,” VMS coach Mike Garvey said. “Cathy and I joked that the first couple of games, the team that makes the most number of mistakes loses. It was nice to see after that that the play improved. The girls were winning points. It was fun to be a part of that match.”
In front of a packed out split between chants of “Let’s go Saints” and “V-M-S,” both teams came out with understandable nerves. Serving errors plagued VMS early, while Vail Christian’s hitting wasn’t a crisp as it would have liked.
With Vail Christian leading, 2-1, both teams hit their stride in the fourth. The Saints’ Brooke Bowles served her team out to a 10-4 lead, only to see VMS rally behind blocks from Molly Etters and Della Elich, as well as an attack from Ande Brill.
The Gore Rangers led by as much as 23-19 before the Saints charged. Allie Parker and Molly Brooks put down blocks, and Jackie Parker had an ace to bring the Saints to match point at 25-24.
Allie Parker appeared to put down the game-winning kill, but Vail Christian was whistled for a net violation, giving the Gore Rangers new life. Kelsey Ferguson served the next two points, capped by a big kill from Elich, and the two rivals were off to a decisive fifth game.
“Vail Christian had us on the ropes in (Game 4),” Garvey said. “I just couldn’t be more pleased in the way the girls responded. We thought we lost the point, and then the girl’s in the net. The ball’s back in our hands, and Kelsey Ferguson took advantage of it. I can’t say enough. That Game 4 win was unbelievable.”
While the momentum had swung to VMS’ side, the Saints had to respond.
“You’re playing with everyone, including the refs,” Alexander said. “They see them as they see them, and you have to go on. The girls did a great job. They had confidence going out in the fifth game.”
Game over … this time
After trading the first six points in the finale, Brooks again got the Saints going with a block. Allie Parker put down a monster kill. With Jackie Parker behind the line serving an ace and Kristin McGinty dropping in a tip, the Saints were in control at 11-5.
Late in the game, Elich rolled her left ankle, but bravely returned to the court after teammate Christiana White pulled VMS to within 13-9. The Saints closed it out with a McGinty kill and a nice serve from Kelly Bowles.
For both teams, this was a nice warm-up for district play, starting Oct. 27.
“This is a ton of experience. We needed this,” Alexander said. “At some point in time (during districts), we’re going to play North Park or Dove Creek. We need to be able to play against the big, tough teams. Vail Mountain School hit very well today. They were on with their hits. When they finally got their short serves, they were serving well. It was the strategy of who’s going to pick it up.”
Vail Christian (13-4 overall and 6-0 in the 1A Mountain League) wraps the regular season with road games Friday and Saturday at Ridgway and Ouray, respectively.
VMS, which hadn’t been extended to five since the third game of the season, also appreciated the tune-up. The Gore Rangers (4-13 and 3-4 in the 2A Slope) are at Hayden Saturday with a chance to move up as high as fourth place in the league.
Postseason aspirations aside, for now, the Saints own bragging rights in the Vail Blue Rivalry.
“I think it’s just fun to play VMS, and it’s always a good game,” Brooks said, while carrying coach Alexander’s daughter, Taylor, 8. “I think it will help us in districts just to stay focused for five games. We better get used to it.”
Taylor summed up the Saints’ evening with an emphatic “Yeah.”
And that is about all anyone can say after Tuesday night.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Local Journalism
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User