Vail Valley preps: Devils gear up for volleyball districts
GYPSUM – Emily Post would have liked Eagle Valley volleyball 2010.
To this point, the Devils have always said the right thing.
“We’re taking it point-by-point,” following coach Shawn Weatherred’s mantra.
“We’re only looking ahead to Delta,” or Palisade or Moffat, etc.
“I didn’t know we did that,” Devils libero Shila Branch said. “I don’t know who we’re playing until the day before when I find out what time we’re leaving for a game. It’s just about playing volleyball.”
That singleness of purpose is probably one of many reasons Eagle Valley is 17-2 and hosting the 4A District 7 Tournament Saturday. Great players, a coach with a feel for the mission and superb teamwork likely helps fill out the list.
That said, the Devils are finally at the part of the season for which they have waited for exactly 51 weeks since they lost in regionals at Roosevelt last season. It’s finally playoff time.
This is Eagle Valley’s third league title in as many years and its third time hosting this tournament, which seems permanently ensconced on Eagle County. (Battle Mountain won the Slope from 2005-07, making it six straight years of Saturday volleyball at the end of October.) Eagle Valley’s qualified both times out of District 7, finishing second in 2008 and winning in 2009.
Ironically, winning last year probably provided more heart palpitations. The top- two teams from each district tournament go to regionals, so it’s actually semifinals that are the critical matches. And that brings us to last year’s semis – a thrilling (if you survived the match) 25-19, 25-20, 20-25, 20-25, 15-13 win over Glenwood Springs.
The Devils saw their season come down to six points when Game 5 was tied at nine. After finally putting down Glenwood, the Devils ripped Rock Canyon for the district trophy. Eagle Valley would like a little less excitement in 2010.
“We learned from that,” senior Shelby Wright said. “We know that we have to fight for every point. You can change a game by playing each point.”
Glenwood stands in Eagle Valley’s way again. The Devils are in Pool A and play Summit County at 8 a.m. and the Demons at 11 a.m. (For our usual disclaimer this time of year, pool-play matches roll one after the other. Glenwood at 11 a.m. is an estimate based on 90 minutes per match.)
Montezuma-Cortez, Steamboat Springs and Palmer Ridge make up Pool B. The top-two teams from each match make the ever-important semifinals.
“The semifinals are the most important match,” Weatherred said. “They can end your season really quickly. In regionals you don’t have a match like that.”
Eagle Valley is a combined 3-0 this year against its pool opponent and that’s 5-0 if you throw in Steamboat from the other side of the bracket.
“You take it like you’ve never played them before,” Weatherred said. “You take it like it’s the first game of the season with best team in the country on the other side of the court.”
Another plotline to Saturday, if the Devils advance, is will Eagle Valley host regionals? The Devils are 17-2 with their only two losses coming to 5A schools. Eagle Valley would likely need to be workman-like in their performance Saturday, read 3-0 wins.
The Devils’ hopes for one of the top four seeds in regionals got a boost Tuesday when 17-4 Thomas Jefferson was ousted from District 4 and replaced by 10-9 Denver South. Thomas Jefferson’s 17-4 record is nice, but 21 matches are more than the 19 allowed by CHSAA.
“Yeah, it’s one of those things that if we got the opportunity, it would obviously be super-beneficial,” Weatherred said. “I think if we play well we should be No. 3 or 4. It would be our third regional (appearance) in a row, our third league title. But we have to focus on the here and now.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.