Volleyball 2016: With no clear favorite, who will rise? | VailDaily.com

Volleyball 2016: With no clear favorite, who will rise?

Chris Freud
KRISTIN ANDERSON |

As we look ahead to volleyball, there is no team to which we can point and say with certainty, “They’re going to state.”

This isn’t like 2006 for Battle Mountain or 2010 for Eagle Valley or Vail Christian in 2013 or, say, the Vail Mountain teams of 15 years ago with Tree, Mags and Juice.

By the way, those are Mrs. Lara Golos, Mrs. Maggie Connor and Miss Julie Littman. I’m old. (And, yes, seventh- and eighth-graders better do their English homework well at VMS.)

Come back, Freud. This is not to say that no one is going to the Denver Coliseum. And that’s what could make it a special season. Someone’s going to surprise. It could be multiple teams. Let’s watch it unfold.

The 4A Slope

One of the things I have loved about volleyball the last few years is that the Eagle Mountain-Battle Valley Huskvils rivalry is that these matches have meant something, not just bragging right.

Battle Mountain won league in 2013 with the Devils in second. The teams tied atop the league in 2014, with Eagle Valley winning the crown by tiebreaker. Last year, the Devils finished a game behind champion, Steamboat Springs, with the Huskies tied for third.

Having covered the local rivalry, this is rare. In football, it’s generally Eagle Valley. Cross-country is Battle Mountain. In volleyball, it’s anyone’s guess, and both teams are at the top of the standings.

Looking around the league, Steamboat lost a lot to graduation, but coach Wendy Hall always finds a way. Delta is playing in 3A, which is good for our local squads because the Panthers were very young last year, and came on like a house on fire as the season progressed, making state.

Palisade had an off year, and one just assumes the Bulldogs will be back. Truthfully it’s not hard to see the Devils and Huskies right in the mix and here’s why.

Devils

By virtue of a coin flip, we look at Eagle Valley first.

We welcome Jackie Rindy, who is no stranger to the program, as head coach. (Does Jaimee, Class of 2015, have any eligibility left? Go Kohawks!)

Carlee Morrison, Devon Green, Haley Collier and Taylor Sandoval are tough graduation losses, but the cupboard is by no means bare.

Molly Jewitt shared the serving duties with Sandoval and is the natural successor there. There’s no more Morrison, but now junior Becy Glutova is rather terrifying in a good way. She’s seen a lot of time her first two years and will be hard to contain.

And, oh yeah, Kylie Martin, Cassie Jaramillo and Emma Lasse return.

That’s a good bunch, and we’ll doubtless see new faces.

I like that Eagle Valley is going to tournaments at Regis and Evergreen, where the Devils should see some good competition. This team will be battle-tested for the Slope, having played Montrose, Central and then at Regis.

Huskies

Battle Mountain will definitely miss its four seniors from last year, most particularly Jordan Brandt. (Go Battling Bishops! Between that and Kohawks, those are some awesome mascots.)

However, coach Jason Fitzgerald has quietly done a really nice job of rebuilding on the fly from a team that went to state in 2013. Battle Mountain started 2-4 last year and clearly started to put it together on its way to 14-10, while playing some younger players.

Haley Frischholz was a libero last year and set her freshman year. Lilly DeMuth also sets, so there are plenty of options there. Avery Weaver, Timaree McKinney, Taylor Keep and Sara Sullivan are all back up front.

It’s really rather amazing how much the Devils and Huskies resemble each other, and that’s great. By the way, Devils at Huskies on Sept. 13, and vice versa on Oct. 20.

Saints and Gore Rangers

Vail Christian will not be coached by someone named Cathy Alexander. That just hurts the brain. Welcome to Sara Carlton. Vail Christian might be a little bit of a rebuild from last year, but the Saints have a pipeline in place.

Over at Vail Mountain, Whitney Armistead begins her second season with the Gore Rangers. The second year is always easier and more so when you have a majority of the roster coming back.

Both Vail Christian and VMS will have to contend with a reconfigured 2A Slope, which includes No. 2-ranked Paonia.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.