Saints spikers head to districts
EDWARDS — Before we get to the vagaries of Friday’s (and hopefully) Saturday’s Class 2A District 5 Volleyball Tournament for Vail Christian, some housekeeping.
The Saints (14-5 overall and 11-1 in league) won what we’ve been calling the 2A Slope Northern Division, or the Gore Division.
That is, in fact, considered a league title, so congratulations to the blue, silver and white for their second 2A conference crown, the first coming in 2009.
“How ’bout them,” Saints coach Cathy Alexander said. “Isn’t that great? We’ve had a super season with a few blips.”
Blips aside, Vail Christian gets to put another pennant on the south wall of the Wheeler Athletic Center since the west one if full.
And in a surprising development, Vail Christian will not go to Olathe for districts. The next stop is, in fact, Soroco.
Advancing to Saturday
With the Saints a full-fledged 2A school to stay, they get a new district tournament. All the 1A schools in the Gore and Mesa leagues have gone to their respective districts, leaving nine teams in 2A District 5.
Vail Christian is Pool A with Rangely, at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, and Meeker at 1:30 p.m.-ish. Cedaredge is in Pool B with West Grand and Hotchkiss. Paonia heads up Pool C with Hayden and Soroco.
The reason the Gore League title is critical is that Vail Christian doesn’t have to play Paonia (19-0, ranked No. 3 in the state) or Cedaredge (15-3, No. 10) until Saturday, when the three pool winners play a round-robin with berths to regionals already in hand.
So this would be district volleyball’s answer to district Fridays in basketball. While the last two years have been good to Saints boys basketball, someone may have to sedate Sheldon Kuhns just in case.
Rangely and Meeker
Rangely and Vail Christian haven’t played this year, which is weird for Saints fans because the Panthers have been league opponents for years. Under the category of “for whatever it’s worth,” the Saints swept Rangely last year in league play.
The Panthers went 10-8 overall and 6-6 in the Mesa.
“I talked to (Vail Mountain School coach) Mike Garvey (whose team) played them a few weeks ago,” Alexander said. “He said they were probably comparable to teams in our league like Hayden and Soroco. That gives us a little confidence, but we have to be careful not give them a little momentum.”
That would be the lesson learned from the Saints’ only league loss, at West Grand, which Alexander called a key point of the regular season “an eye-opener.”
Vail Christian and Meeker met up on Sept. 5 in Edwards with the Cowboys winning in five games.
Since it was a nonconference game — again, that sounds strange — the Saints were still playing around with combinations, playing three different lineups in five games. Vail Christian settled on a rotation after the West Grand loss, after which the Saints went on an 8-2 run with losses only to 3A Middle Park and 4A Battle Mountain.
Of course, Meeker (13-6) is doubtless improved as well. The Cowboys feature a big middle-blocker in Meagan Parker, so that should be a battle at the net.
Alexander said that they key may not be at the net despite the matchup in the middle.
“When we play well, we serve well,” she said. “We also have to be aggressive on the ball, whether its passing, defense or hitting. We have to be aggressive getting to the ball, and we’ve done a good job of that the last few weeks.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.