Skiers lose thriller at Eagle Valley | AspenTimes.com

Skiers lose thriller at Eagle Valley

Ian CroppVail correspondent

Aspens Brittany Zanin falls short of returning a spike against Eagle Valley Tuesday in Gypsum. Eagle Valley won the match in five games. (Shane Macomber/Vail Daily)

The Eagle Valley Devils know that first wins can be elusive. There was no way, however, Eagle Valley was going to let Aspen steal this volleyball victory.In a back-and-forth, five-game match Tuesday, the Devils edged the Skiers, 13-25, 25-23, 25-20, 21-25, 15-11.”I have won a district championship before and this feels just as good,” said Eagle Valley coach Rob Crawford. “To see the girls work with such persistency, was really great.”Both teams were relentless in their attack throughout the match. The Devils led late in the fourth game, 21-18, but Aspen stormed back to force a fifth game. In the final game, the Devils went up 8-3, and then Aspen surged back and tied the game at 11. Eagle Valley then sealed its first victory by winning the next four points.”It was such an intense and exciting match,” said Eagle Valley’s Kellee Hollis. “We didn’t know we were going to win until the very end.”

The last game featured long rallies and strong defensive play from both sides.”We want to be a defensive, scrappy team and frustrate the other team,” Crawford said. “Aspen had very good defense and dug up a ton of our hits.”On many points, net players kept the play going by tipping potential kills to back-row players. For the Skiers, Page Cottrell seemed to dig up most of the hits the Devils dished out.”We are a small team, and our defense keeps us alive,” said Aspen coach Sara Benson.The Skiers’ serving, however, did not keep them alive.”Our serve was the one thing that hurt us,” Benson said. “We didn’t miss one serve in the first game, but we started to miss them in other games.”

In the end, the Devils’ determination was the downfall of the Skiers.”Aspen would dig one of our hits up and get it back to us, but we’d put it away,” Crawford said. “In the past, [other teams] had dug it up, and our heads kind of dropped.” Eagle Valley came out lethargic and unorganized in the first game, and Aspen pounced on the Devils. After a few lineup changes, the Devils regrouped and came out in the second game on fire.”We took over and it was awesome,” said the Devils’ Lyndee Cox. “There was so much energy.”Cox moved to setter, where she helped engineer the Devils’ offense. Eagle Valley won points from all over the court, although many came from the middle.”We finally realized the middle of the court was open, so I told Michelle [Parmenter] to go up like she was going to hit the ball and then tip it,” Crawford said. “She sold the hit, and they were caught still.”

The match ended on a tip in the center of the court by Cox.The clutch player of the evening was Aspen’s Connie Luu. At the end of the last three games, Luu brought the Skiers back into the game with strings of winning serves.”It’s a lot of pressure, but I try and block out everything I can,” Luu said.Even with the pressure and the loud Eagle Valley crowd, Luu was perfect on her serves all night, and put a scare in the Devils at the end of the game.”It’s a little unnerving when they came back on us,” Crawford said. “It’s happened where other teams have done it and they’ve won.”Ian Cropp’s e-mail address is icropp@vaildaily.com