Vail Christian downs Vail Mountain
EAST VAIL – The Blue Vail rivalry turned pink, but the result stayed the same in the end Tuesday.
With both teams clad in pick warm-up shirts and wearing pink ribbons and socks as a part of fundraiser for breast cancer, Vail Christian knocked off rival Vail Mountain, 25-18, 25-13, 25-17, in East Vail for a season sweep of the Gore Rangers.
“It’s really nice,” Saints outside hitter Ashlyn Gruber said. “It’s fun to play to a rival school.”
“Didn’t we sweep them last year.” asked teammate and middle blocker Dakota Francis.
Madama Francis is correct with a caveat. The Saints have won five in row in full-length matches against VMS, but the Gore Rangers did win a one-game playoff between the two teams at districts on their way to a regional berth last year.
Either way, the balance of power in 2A volleyball in Eagle County has shifted westward. Vail Christian is 11-3 this year, second in the 2A Slope only to Rangely, while VMS fell to 4-12.
“I was pleased with the way we played in Game 1,” VMS coach Mike Garvey said. “I felt like we played good defense. Unfortunately, we had too many hitting errors, which is what killed us. We felt like we were competitive in the match. Unfortunately, we fell down in Games 2 and 3 and Vail Christian is too strong of a team to do that against.”
For Vail Christian, libero McKenzie O’Brien sparkled. She was all over the court. Throw in an excellent setter in Kylie Alexander and the Saints are left addressing their most crucial question as they begin their push to the postseason.
The middle block. Mind you, we know the middle blocker is Francis. But getting up a team block is the big issue when it comes to how far the Saints go in November. Coach Cathy Alexander had Francis and sophomore Paris Baker in the middle along with Ashlyn Gruber, Gracen McGuckin and Emily Irwin on the outside in different spots in Tuesday’s game.
“She’s pretty good,” Francis joked while standing next to Gruber. “We’ve been working on a lot transition drills. It’s pretty good.”
Meanwhile, Vail Mountain is not done. The Gore Rangers are at Meeker and at West Grand the next two Saturdays before the district tournament.
“We have seven practices in the next two weeks, which is something we haven’t had in a little while,” Garvey said. “It’s good for us to get back into the gym and work fundamentally on some things. I think we need that more than we need actual playing time. So we’re going to take advantage of that.”
Vail Christian starts the stretch run with North Park at home Saturday.
“We’re treating every game like a district game,” Francis said. “We need to win it. It’s our chance to advance to regionals. We have to have that mentality all year long.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.