Vail Christian, VMS (together) ready for regionals
And now for a refresher course on regionals since it’s been a little while since Vail Christian (2007) and Vail Mountain (2005) volleyball have been to the Sweet 16.
This is not 1A regionals where District 6 teams like La Veta and Mountain Valley roll over and play dead while a Vail team and DeBeque merrily march to the state tournament.
For the first time, the Saints and Gore Rangers are in the regional tournament, specifically Region C at Palisade Saturday, at the same time, and for both schools, it’s their first 2A appearance.
The four-team round robin starts with Vail Christian vs. Mancos at 9 a.m. – the Saints and Gore Rangers play at about 1:30 p.m., if anyone’s interested – with the top-two teams punching their tickets to the Denver Coliseum.
And in answer to your first question, yep, both the Gore Rangers and Saints would like to make this a Vail affair.
“It would be awesome,” Vail Christian coach Cathy Alexander said.
But first things first. As already noted, 2A regionals figure to be difficult for both local teams. Mancos enters at 19-3 and went to state last year from this tournament, while Dolores is 14-5.
VMS is technically the No. 1 seed going into the tourney by virtue of winning the District 5 Tournament last week. The only benefit from the designation is that VMS doesn’t play in consecutive games on Saturday.
The more significant thing about winning districts last weekend is the way the Gore Rangers played. Not only did they have their full crew after season of the flu, but four of their five matches went the full five games.
That’s a confidence booster, and probably good preparation for what lies ahead.
“We’ll go five all weekend as long as we’re winning,” VMS coach Mike Garvey joked.
Of local interest, what happens when the Gore Rangers and Saints meet for the third time this season with Vail Christian holding a 2-0 advantage?
Going in to the tournament, Garvey is in postseason form when it comes to cliches.
“They say one of the toughest things in sports is beating a team three times,” Garvey sad. “So we’ve got that one going for us. We’re going at it one match at a time. We need to focus on Dolores before we look at Vail Christian.”
There’s also a personal motivation for VMS.
“We want to prove that our district championship was not a one-day thing,” senior setter Cynthia Edgerton said. “We want to play well, and play every game like it’s out last because it could be.”
And now for “As the Ankle Turns … or hopefully not.”
Vail Christian middle-blocker Beri Dwyer returned to practice Wednesday after injuring her right angle at districts against VMS. So far, so good. Dwyer should be back for regionals.
“It’s nice and colorful,” Alexander joked. “(Her teammates) are making sure she always has ice with her and her foot is propped up in class.”
“Paris (Baker) did a great job. You have to give her a lot of credit,” Junior Dakota Francis said of Dwyer’s freshman replacement last weekend. “It will be nice having Beri back with her experience and leadership on the court. It’ll be nice to have her smile out on the court.”
With Dwyer back, Vail Christian hopes to continue in its winning ways that helped the Saints take the 2A Slope. It should be noted that the Saints did not exactly struggle at districts, though they were protected. Vail Christian was 2-1 in pool play and lost a spot in the semifinals in a one-game playoff with VMS.
The Saints viewed last weekend’s district tourney as a dress rehearsal regionals and expect some serious competition this weekend.
“That’s what competition is about,” Alexander said. “When you get to the top 16, you should have five-game matches. You shouldn’t expect to beat anyone in three.”
That neither Vail team knows much about Mancos or Dolores isn’t a worry.
“We know Mancos has a 6-(foot-)1 middle, but we adjusted out game against Hayden. We’ve seen good outside hitters with West Grand. Rangely’s had good passing. We can adjust.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Region C schedule
At Palisade (times approximate)
Vail Christian vs. Mancos, 9 a.m.
Vail Mountain vs. Dolores, 10:30 a.m.
Mancos vs. Dolores, noon
Vail Mountain vs. Vail Christian, 1:30 p.m.
Vail Christian vs. Dolores, 3 p.m.
Vail Mountain vs. Mancos, 4:30 p.m.