VMS spikers win fourth straight
EAST VAIL – After Vail Mountain volleyball’s 3-1 win (25-18, 23-25, 25-10, 25-14) at Homecoming Saturday, the team serenaded captain Lauren Utzig with a boisterous version of “Happy Birthday.”
Utzig, who turned 18, and her teammates had a lot to celebrate after raising their 1A Mountain League record to 3-0.
“Happy birthday, Lefty,” sophomore Aubrie Apple said. “She played really well. I’m proud of her.”
Apple didn’t have too bad of a game herself, helping lead the attack against the visiting Titans.
“She got a lot of opportunities to hit,” VMS coach Mike Garvey said. “I think the players behind her, Lindsay (Wright), Cely (Brinkmann) and Lauren (Utzig), did a great job all night long of passing. It left Lara (Green) in an easy position and, of course, Aubrie’s there to finish it off.”
VMS trailed in Game 1, 15-11, before getting going. A Crested Butte serving error started the Gore Rangers’ rally. Katie Wear clicked off four points from behind the line, which included three kills from Wright.
Tied at 16, Wright served up seven points, including three aces. During that sequence, Apple had a kill and Wright and Brinkmann impressed the crowd with their hustle on digs. Apple closed out Game 1 with a kill.
After a sluggish loss in Game 2, VMS took over. Wright and Utzig combined for 11 serving points, during which Apple had three, big kills.
“Our passing was incredible tonight and Lara (Green) set up everyone perfectly,” Apple said. “So, that paid off a lot.”
Green can serve too. Up 16-5, she had an ace and got another point, courtesy of a Brinkmann kill. Apple served two aces, which were followed by a kill and a huge block from Wright. VMS led, 23-6, and, for all intents and purposes, Game 3 was in the books.
VMS started to pull away in Game 4 with Apple serving. Her ace and a super combo-block from Brinkmann and Wright gave the Gore Rangers a 12-8 lead.
From there, Wright went on a serving tear, with Brinkmann and Apple chipping in three kills each for a 21-13 lead. Kills from Brinkmann and Apple capped the win for VMS, which has now won four-straight matches.
“We were able to polish this one in four,” Garvey said. “There was a little bit of a slow start today. There was a different pace of play today, too. I think that had a little bit of an effect. It took us a while to get used to the fact that everything wasn’t going to be 100 miles-per-hour. They did a lot of substitutions, which slows things down. It took us a little while to get used to that. But, good to see it and we can definitely learn with it.”
Next up for VMS is a big game at DeBeque on Tuesday. The Gore Rangers and Dragons have battled for league and regional titles for the last two seasons. And, with Vail Christian off to a fast start, Tuesday’s game figures to be a critical one for VMS.
“I expect us to click right away,” Apple said. “We’ve been having trouble with that. But, we’re all going to come out with huge intensity and a lot desire to win.”
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at email@example.com.