Saints spikers march into regionals
Vail Christian High School needs a bigger trophy case.
The football team brought home a plaque for its first Central League title earlier this month. And, Saturday, the Saints’ spikers continued to make history for the school, by advancing to regionals for the first time in the program’s history.
“We were almost speechless,” Saints volleyball coach Cathy Alexander said. “The players were crying. The fans were crying. This has been six years in the making. For our three seniors to experience this, that was great. To do this with two young setters was fabulous. All you could do was hug and cheer and be excited.
“We got a plaque and, now, the school has to get a trophy case.”
Consider it on order, folks.
“We started screaming,” senior Brooke Horan-Kates said. “This was more exciting than beating (the Vail Mountain School during the regular season). I think we forgot to shake hands with the other team. We were just hugging each other. For this happen, as a senior, is awesome.”
Vail Christian went 2-2 at the 1A District 1 Volleyball Tournament in Delta. The Saints split in pool play and beat Ridgway in the semifinals to finish second, guaranteeing a spot in regionals in Gunnison on Saturday.
In a season of surprises for the Saints, the district tournament started with one. The Saints were in Pool B with VMS and Norwood, and the whole talk before the tournament was that the Vail Christian-VMS game was critical. That’s because the winner would avoid DeBeque, the odds-on favorite in Pool A and in the tournament, in the semifinals, where teams clinch spots in regionals.
Well, Ouray threw that all out the window early, by upsetting the Dragons in five games in the first match of the tournament.
“It was very surprising when we walked into the gym and saw the score,” junior Rachel Glandorf said. “”Oh, my goodness. What’s going on?” Our coach kept on telling us anything could happen in districts and that’s the perfect example. We didn’t think about it much going into the VMS game, but it all worked out for the better.”
Yes, it did because Vail Christian fell to VMS, 23-25, 25-21, 25-17, 25-17.
“The first two games were real close – point-for-point,” Alexander said. “In the middle of the third game, they pulled ahead when we had a slide in our confidence. VMS played well against us. They were on. We passed well and dug well. We just didn’t get many kills.”
The Saints got the win they needed to advance to the semifinals, by beating Norwood, 25-18, 26-24, 28-26. Horan-Kates had 15 kills and 16 digs. Kaley Hagerman had three aces. Megan Barry and Glandorf had nine and eight digs, respectively. In the assists department, Lauren Mutter had 14, while Nicole Parker had nine.
“It was a tough game,” Alexander said. “Norwood played well against us. They’re a young program and had been beaten up pretty badly by VMS. Those were three tight games. They’re a scrappy team.”
VMS won Pool B at 2-0, while Vail Christian was second at 1-1. Meanwhile, DeBegue, Ridgway and Ouray all finished at 1-1 in Pool A. Ridgway got the top spot, based on games-lost ratio. DeBeque beat Ouray in a 15-point tiebreaker. The net result was that Vail Christian got Ridgway in the first semi, while DeBeque and VMS would play in the second.
Though the Saints had beaten Ridgway twice during the regular season, they had to guard against overconfidence.
“We were confident,” Horan-Kates said. “We beat them twice before, but we prepared mentally and physically throughout the season for a situation like this. We didn’t take them lightly. We were ready and pumped up.”
It showed. The Saints won in four – 15-25, 26-24, 25-16, 25-22. Down 22-15 in Game 4, Parker was the hero of the hour, serving nine-straight points, pulling the Saints to one point from regionals.
Vail Christian got the final point on a sideout and both sets of Vail fans – VMS’ faithful also – exploded.
“It was hard to believe,” Glandorf said. “All of our great fans were on the court with us. It meant so much. The VMS players were cheering for us, laying on the floor, pounding the court.”
Your 2003 Saints spikers include, Horan-Kates, Brittany Wright, Barry, Glandorf, Mutter, Parker, Bradie Beagley, Hagerman, Meghan Struve and Jackie Parker.
Vail Christian still had the district championship game to go vs. DeBeque, who eliminated VMS in three games. The title game was scheduled for 7 p.m. It began at 10 p.m., and the Saints were understandably bushed.
Having not eaten since noon, with all their games bunched up in the afternoon and evening, the Saints fell, 19-25, 13-25, 26-24, 17-25.
But DeBeque and Vail Christian are off to Gunnison and, for the Saints, it will be an awfully sweet trip.
“Now (girls basketball coach) Patrick Beaudine is going to have to wait at least another week until basketball starts,” Alexander joked.
In the meantime, maybe, Beaudine can get to work on that trophy case.
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.