Vail Valley preps: Devils tame Tigers in four
GYPSUM – Eagle Valley beat back nerves and the Grand Junction Tigers to win Thursday’s season volleyball opener.
The Devils won the best-of-five match three games to one, 25-23, 25-16, 24-26 and 25-23.
They were as nervous as a saint in Sin City before the match. Between the nerves and an aggressive start by Grand Junction, the Lady Devils found themselves down 6-1 in the first game.
“We were nervous early in the first game and got beat up a little, but we have exceptional senior leadership and they kept us on an even keel,” said Eagle Valley coach Shawn Weatherred.
It didn’t take long to turn set things right.
Junior outside hitter Alex Lassa drilled a couple kills so hard through the Grand Junction defense that it looked like she was trying bury nuclear waste.
Senior Lauren Shreeve dropped the hammer twice and before you could say “These kids could hit a BB through a bank vault door,” they were up 13-9.
When senior Shila Branch dove into another zip code to recover a Grand Junction floater about to drop inside the back line, you knew they’d be fine.
And they were, rallying from behind to win the opener 25-23.
The second game saw four lead changes and three ties by the time they fought to an 11-11 tie.
Senior Shelby Wright dropped a serve through a hole so small it would accommodate nothing bigger than theoretical particles, then Daillen Culver drove a seeing-eye kill shot from the right side of the net to the opposite back corner for a 20-15 lead.
Moments later Kelsey VanGoey hit the winner and that was that, 25-16.
The Lady Devils then experienced one of those moments when you know where you are, but you don’t quite understand how you got there. They were leading most of the third game, but Grand Junction rallied to tie 24-24, then scored twice for a 26-24 win to make it two games to one.
Weatherred tinkered with the lineup during that third game, getting everyone into the act.
“It’s important to get everyone out there,” Weatherred said. “We’re not worried every single set in the season opener.”
The short end of a score isn’t somewhere these women were willing to stay, and held off a Grand Junction rally for a 25-23 see-saw win in the fourth and deciding game, putting a notch in their gunbelt for their season-opening match.
Weatherred was happy, and realistic.
“We played well and it’s great to win, but we still have some work to do,” Weatherred said.
The Devils travel to Aspen Tuesday after the Labor Day weekend.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.