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Saints march through

Ian Cropp
Kira Horvath/Daily file photoVail Christian's Allie Parker goes up for a block during a match earlier this year. The Saints advanced to regionals Saturday.
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MONTROSE – Nobody can take away Vail Christian volleyball’s first perfect league record.And now, nobody can take away the Saints’ second regional berth.Saturday morning, Vail Christian won a five-game match against Dove Creek, 23-25, 25-21, 25-18, 14-25, 15-9, to take first in its pool in the 1A District 1 championships.In the crossover match, the Saints dismissed Norwood, 25-14, 25-16, 25-21, to ensure a spot at regionals.”Last year we overlooked (Norwood) and lost the first night in districts, so we figured we would take them as if they were any huge team,” said the Saints’ Kristin McGinty.This year the Saints played five hard-fought matches and almost emerged as the district champs. Vail Christian conjured up the strength to fight North Park to a 25-20, 19-25, 25-18, 19-25, 15-9 loss.”We were so tired, but we sucked out the energy from the depths of our body,” McGinty said.Saints’ coach Cathy Alexander couldn’t have been any happier with her team’s drive even after earning a bid to regionals.”I was ecstatic,” Alexander said. “The girls never gave up, never showed disappointment, never lacked the confidence.”

Friday, Vail Christian put itself in great pool standing by going 2-0 with convincing wins against Ouray and DeBeque.”We beat those two teams (twice) already, and it’s hard to beat the same team three times in a row,” McGinty said.The Saints dropped Ouray, 25-11, 25-17, 18-25, 25-14 and cruised past DeBeque, 25-11, 25-17, 25-14.”It was nice. They were really ready,” Alexander said. “Their nerves were gone. They stayed focused for all three games (against DeBeque). Even during the breaks, they were treating them as timeouts. There was no letdown between matches.”And there was no letdown between Friday and Saturday.”We went in, played Dove Creek for almost two hours, and beat them in five,” Alexander said. “It was a phenomenal match – one of the best we’ve played all year.”All eight Saints contributed to the win that pitted Vail Christian against Norwood, rather than North Park, in the crossovers.

“All year long, it’s needed to be a total team effort,” Alexander said. “Dove Creek had two bit hitters, but our blockers shut them down.”The double block combinations of McGinty and Sammantha Francis and McGinty and Jackie Parker thwarted the Dove Creek attack.”We figured out their huge hitter,” McGinty said. “She only hit angles, so we blocked that. We she tried to hit down the line, she hit it out.”When the Bulldogs tried to hit through the block, they were wholly unsuccessful.”They continued on hitting it hard, and it messed them up,” Alexander said.

The Saints knew it would be hard to follow up one near perfect performance with another, but fortunately, they had a little luck on their side against Norwood.”I can’t tell you number of serves that hit the net and rolled over to the point where the Norwood coach looked at me and said, “How do you practice that?'” Alexander said.Though Vail Christian doesn’t practice net serves, Alexander said everything else they drilled all year came to fruition at districts.”Everyone did a great job,” Alexander said.Parker, the lone senior, continued to show leadership on the court, especially in the finals against North Park.Along with their usually stout defense, the Saints picked up numerous kills thanks to solid passing.”We kept it up all weekend,” McGinty said. “Our setters (Britni Beagley and Brooke Bowles) were doing great. If we shanked a pass every once in a while, they would run them down.”The Saints will be in Gunnison for regionals this weekend.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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