Where did these Saints come from?
To say the least, it has been a season of surprises on the local volleyball scene.
What looked like a rebuilding year for Eagle Valley has turned into monster season in Gypsum.
Like Eagle Valley, Vail Mountain was pounded by graduation, but the Gore Rangers sit atop the 1A Mountain League with a 6-0 mark.
At Battle Mountain, Brian Doyon has the Huskies moving in the right direction with some big early-season wins.
But, what is in the water in Edwards? Easily the biggest surprise in 2003 on the volleyball court is Vail Christian. Tactfully-put, it was a long year last year. The Saints went 1-15 and were 0-for-the-Mountain-League.
A look at this year’s league standings has VMS on top at 6-0, followed by DeBeque and those surprising Saints at 4-1. The Saints’ lone loss is to the Gore Rangers, who have rolled to state the last two seasons – and that loss was a taut, five-gamer, which could have gone either way.
At the beginning of the season a realistic expectation for the Saints was to move into the middle of the pack of the Mountain League. But, now, Cathy Alexander’s crew is in the running for the top, two spots in the league. Take the top, two spots at districts – and the way regionals are set up – it’s almost automatic that the Mountain League teams advance to Denver.
So, could we possibly be looking at a team in 2002 which went 1-15, making the state playoffs in 2003? Don’t bring up the concept of state to Alexander.
“No. We’ve got to get to league first. We really do,” she said. “It’s one game at a time. When we get to the district tournament, it starts all over again. The win-loss record doesn’t really matter at that time. We’ve got to focus one game at a time and play at the best of our abilities.”
Sorry, Coach, for bringing it up, but it is a fun scenario – and it would be the story of the season.
Moving back to the here and now, how did this turnaround come about?
“It’s just that we had to start to learn to work with each other,” senior Brittany Wright said. “Of course, not losing a player (to graduation) always helps the chemistry of the team because taking away someone can mess up the chemistry. So, it’s just the chemistry that all came together. We had it last year. We just needed to mesh a little more.”
Then there’s the tradition theory, which comes from Alexander. This is a really, good point. Just look at VMS volleyball the last few years and the Saints football, team, which was practicing next door Wednesday.
“They have to build a tradition,” Alexander said. “Winning is a tradition and the way you feel about yourself as a winner is very important. They had some success last year in basketball, which made it easy to transition into volleyball. Just winning overall is a good thing in any school program, especially at a school our size, going from one thing to next.”
And, speaking of next, that would be Lutheran of the Rockies Saturday at 11 a.m., at St. Clare in Edwards as a part of Homecoming.
And, after that – sorry, Coach, it’s just too tempting – loom three key dates – DeBeque at home on Oct. 4, at VMS on Oct. 14 and at DeBeque on Oct. 18.
Whatever happens, it’s going to be a fun ride.
“I’m having a blast because I love watching the girls reap what they sow,” Alexander said. “They’ve worked hard for the last whole year. It’s rewarding.”
And, it could be even more rewarding come late October.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.