Huskies break up Glenwood’s winning streak
EAGLE-VAIL ” After Battle Mountain volleyball’s Crystin Rodrick put down the game-winning kill to lift the No. 8 Huskies over No. 6 Glenwood Springs, the student section in Eagle-Vail started to chant, “Over rated.”
With the 25-18, 22-25, 25-14, 25-23 win over the Demons, the Huskies raised their record to 8-1 overall and 4-0 in the 4A Slope, at the same time knocking the visiting Demons from the ranks of the unbeaten.
For the first time in school history, the Huskies are atop the 4A Western Slope and it hasn’t been since 1999 that Battle Mountain, then playing 3A, has led its league.
These are heady times, indeed, for Huskies volleyball, once the doormat of the Western Slope.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Huskies middle blocker Nicole Penwill said. “This is the biggest accomplishment of our season. It’s awesome. We’ve been looking forward to this game for so long. We knew they would bring an awesome game.”
Glenwood brought its game, especially with its two superb middle blockers, Leah Hinkey and Leanna Lawson, but the Huskies were more than equal to the task.
“We knew we were going to be facing a tough team and we knew this was going to be our biggest match of the year,” Demons coach Scott Nykerk said. “They came in and fought but came up a little short.”
But before the Huskies plan a league-title celebration, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“We did this last year, though,” Huskies coach Brian Doyon said, sounding a note of caution. “We beat these girls here last year, so we’ve got to do it again at their house. But it’s great. It was a good match. Glenwood is really strong. Our girls kept their composure and played great defense. We kept in our system and did our best to keep them out of their system.”
The Huskies countered Lawson and Hinkey with Penwill and Devon Abbott. Though Hinkey played a superb fourth game, literally taking the Demons on her back, Penwill and Abbot, with support from Britney Brown and Sofia Lindroth, contained Glenwood’s 1-2 punch.
Rodrick and Penwill stuffed Hinkey for a key point in Game 1, giving the Huskies a 17-11 lead. That was critical in giving Battle Mountain a 1-0 lead. Though Glenwood took Game 2, Penwill had another huge block, establishing control of the net for the Huskies.
“That was the key going into it that they’re great middles,” Doyon said of Lawson and Hinkey. “We just had to manage them. Yeah, they going to have great kills and people are going to go crazy. But we have to know that we’ve got to continue to play solid defense.”
That played our in the decisive fourth game. The Huskies were trailing, 11-6, at one point, and then they got another big block from Penwill. Sydney Nichols followed with another rejection and Rodrick slammed home a kill and the Huskies were on their way back.
“They know where the ball is going,” Nykerk said. “It’s just a matter of stopping it and they just did a good job of it. It was a matter of putting up a block and they did it.”
“We knew that we would be up against really big hitters, really solid hitters, so we knew we had to put up a strong block,” Penwill said. “We new they had two awesome middles. They’ve been called the best in the state. Devon and I had a really big responsibility to hold them down.”
With monster kills from Rodrick and Lindroth and a timely ace from Sarah Simmons, the Huskies finally tied it at 15. Rodrick and company then held off the Demons long enough to secure the win.
“Glenwood is one of our rivals, a tough team to play,” Rodrick said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be three games. We knew it was going to be tough competition. It helps us a lot. We now have beaten two previously undefeated teams (Palisade was the other). We can feel really good about ourselves.”
The Huskies also won the game from behind the line. Though the Huskies made more serving errors than usual, it was part of the game plan.
“The key to the game was that we had to serve them strong to keep them out of their system, not to give them an easy ball,” Doyon said. “We had quite a few errors, but you’ve got to take that risk.”
The risk paid off.
“Our serve receive wasn’t that strong, so we struggled with that a little,” Nykerk said. “It shifted our momentum back and forth every time our serve receive broke down.”
Glenwood (8-1, 3-1) is next in action Saturday at home against Eagle Valley at 1 p.m. The Huskies travel to Rifle Tuesday.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.