Saints seniors revel win postseason experience
EDWARDS – There are a lot of people at Vail Christian who are pleased with the success the Saints volleyball team has had this year.
Principal Steven Glandorf is doubtless happy. Of course, aside from being the principal of the school, he’s a little biased. Daughter Rachel’s been a big key to the team’s success.
Naturally, coach Cathy Alexander is very proud.
“A lot of excitement is going on,” she said. “Yes, we’re flying high.”
Even football coach Bob Isbell and his better half Linda are getting volleyball fever. By the way, Bob, we yell, “Sideout,” not “First-and-10. Do it again.”
But between parents, teachers, coaches and players in the Vail Christian community, there are three young ladies, who are likely enjoying the prospect of Saturday’s regional tournament at Gunnison the most.
They are the seniors – Megan Barry, Brooke Horan-Kates and Brittany Wright.
With 11 years of Saints volleyball under their belt, they have endured more than their fair share of the lows and are deservedly getting to experience the highs of a young program, turning into a contender.
Just one incident in districts last weekend against DeBeque is symbolic of what has happened to Vail Christian volleyball this season.
“Megan Barry, as a freshman or a sophomore, couldn’t serve over the net,” Alexander said. “She served one out of bounds long the other night against DeBeque and looked at me and said, “Do you believe I served out of bounds long?’ How far they’ve transformed is phenomenal. It says something about them, how hard they’ve worked, and how much they’ve wanted to learn the sport of volleyball.”
The golfer struggling on a long par-3 and, then, out of nowhere, finding the strength to hit over the green is a great analogy for these seniors and the rest of the Saints.
After a dreadful 1-15 season in 2002, the Saints, led the by the seniors, have finally found their groove, heading into regionals with a school-best 11-10 mark.
“To stick with a program, which is building is tough,” Alexander said. “You have to believe in what you’re building. They obviously have. This is a fabulous payoff for them. They could have easily gone to another school that had a better program – Eagle Valley or Battle Mountain. I appreciate the fact that they’ve stuck with me, and trusted me enough to teach them what they know.”
There are many explanations for and different turning points in the team’s turnaround and this trio has no shortage of thoughts on the subject.
Horan-Kates started to sense it at the season-opening Demon Invitational at Glenwood Springs. The Saints went winless, but took games from bigger schools.
“We knew something was different,” she said. “Probably, our first couple games (after the tournament) was the turning point. We just needed a win to tell us that we were capable of winning. Last year, it was like, “We’re losers. We can’t win.’ This year, we know we can win.”
The wins have come, and probably the two sweetest so far have been a regular-season victory at Vail Mountain and defeating Ridgway at districts last weekend to advance to regionals.
But, according to Wright, the winning started at a tournament at Rangely during the summer. She also adds another very important factor to the turnaround.
“Of course, getting coach Cathy Alexander as a full-time coach. She turned her team around,” Wright said. “She taught us how to play volleyball. In a public school, it usually takes five or 10 years to get a team going. She did it in a year.”
Then, there’s the countless hours of practice these seniors have gone through. It’s added up.
“I started as a freshman, and I started not knowing anything about volleyball,” Barry said. “Now, as a senior, I know the game now. It’s a dream come true. It’s my last year. I won’t be able to play volleyball (at college). It’s exciting to continue on.”
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at email@example.com.