Vail Christian downs Huskies in three |

Vail Christian downs Huskies in three

VCVB Ashley Gruber 2 DT 10-12-11

EDWARDS – Class 4A Battle Mountain found out Wednesday what the 2A Western Slope has been learning all season.

Vail Christian has a pretty good volleyball team. The 2A Saints bopped the 4A Huskies, 25-23, 25-15, 25-10, for Edwards bragging rights in nonconference play Wednesday at Vail Christian.

“I think that Vail Christian is a very under-rated team not just around our area, but in the state,” Huskies coach Jason Fitzgerald said. “Their outside hitter Ashlyn (Gruber), I would consider one of the best in this area. The combination with (setter) Kylie (Alexander) makes them very difficult to defend and to prepare for. They were ready to play at home against their neighbors.”

While it was a nonconference match, Wednesday’s win was a big one for Vail Christian. In terms of school enrollment, this was a David-and-Goliath affair, except that when it comes to playing, the Saints, now 13-1, are actually the big kids on the block.

Throw in that some of the younger players on both rosters have played club together, the Saints wanted to make a statement.

“Coach was telling us that it was good to play them because competition like that is going to be at regionals and districts,” Saints senior libero MacKenzie O’Brien said. “It was fun because they have some good hitters. Earlier today, we had a school assembly and Mr. Pierson got so fired up. It got our school fired up for this game.”

Mr. Pierson is Tim Pierson, Vail Christian’s athletic director. He’s also Battle Mountain Class of 1997, showing the internecine nature of Wednesday’s game.

Not only was there lots of celebrating with the win, but Vail Christian coach Cathy Alexander was pleased with the way her team played.

“They were very on today,” she said. “I asked them all to mentally prepare as if we were going into districts or regionals and how we were going to have to play at a higher level. I needed every one of them to play at a high level. All of them played at a high level.”

Game 1 was taut affair, and then the Saints asserted themselves. O’Brien was her Hoover-like self in the back. Kylie Alexander distributed well and the Saints hitters put the ball down with authority.

Though 4A Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley and 2A Vail Christian and Vail Mountain don’t often play nonconference games, Wednesday was not unprecedented. VMS, in its salad days with the likes of Lara Bossow, Maggie Haslee, Julia Littman and Tiffany Allan, downed the Huskies in 2001 and the Devils in 2002. In fact, in 2002, both VMS (then 1A) and Eagle Valley (3A at the time) both represented Eagle County at state.

Wednesday’s rousing win sets up Vail Christian nicely for a league triangular in Edwards Saturday with Paonia at 11 a.m., followed by Meeker at roughly 3 p.m.

“I think we’ll play better,” Kylie Alexander said. “I think that was one of the better games we’ve played. I think we know how to play up to the competition.”

Meanwhile, Battle Mountain (4-10) hosts Palisade tonight at 6:30 p.m.

“At this point in the year, for our girls, it’s simply showing up to play at their very best,” Fitzgerald said. “If we can do that every night, we have an opportunity for success. If we walk into any environment, whether it’s hostile or friendly, and are not prepared, it shows immediately.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or

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