Heading into the district volleyball tournament Friday and Saturday in Steamboat Springs, the Moffat County High School varsity volleyball team has one goal in mind, and that is to finish in the top two of its pool.
That quest begins for the Bulldogs, who finished the regular season with a 9-8 mark and second place in the Western Slope League, in Pool A at 2 p.m. Friday against the Rifle Bears.
MCHS will turn around and play at 5 p.m. against Montrose. Saturday, the Bulldogs will finish out pool play at 10:30 a.m. against Cortez.
The games against Rifle and Cortez will be in the old high school gym with the Montrose match in the new high school gym.
"We are excited and ready to play at districts," said Bulldogs coach Vicki Haddan. "Last year a lot of the varsity players didn't get a chance to play and this year they do."
Haddan believes the Rifle match will play a major role for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs beat the Bears twice in the regular season.
"The most important game for us is the Rifle game because we are so close," said Haddan. "We are seeded No. 2 and they are No. 3. If we win that game that will put us in good position."
Bulldogs players are ready for the two-day tournament.
"I am really excited about the district tournament because we are playing so well," said senior Megan Gregg. "I know that Cortez and Rifle are going to be pretty tough. If we can just beat Rifle and Montrose we will be in good shape.
"I think that we just need to play our game. Sometimes we don't play how we can play. If we just go out and play our game I think that we will be fine."
The Bears come into the tournament with three losses on the season. Two to the Bulldogs and one to Steamboat Springs.
"We are playing pretty well, but I think that we can be hot and cold," said Bears coach Beth Sass. "Records going in don't mean anything. You can be undefeated going into the district tournament and not make it. We have a pretty powerful net game and our strong point is our hitting."
Even though the Bulldogs and Bears have already meet twice during the season Sass isn't sure how the match will turn out.
"I really don't know what is going to happen against Moffat County," said Sass. "The past two times Moffat County has had our number and hopefully we made some adjustments. I hope that we come out and give Moffat County a tough game and a run for their money."
The Cortez Panthers, seeded No. 1 in Pool A, finished the conference season with a perfect 10-0 mark.
"We have been playing well as of late," said Panthers coach Lindy Mortensen. "We have four seniors that are real good leaders. We have a pretty quick team and the kids get along and they are a tight group."
"We are in a strong pool," said Mortensen. "We didn't play any Western Slope teams during the regular season. We did play Rifle last year and we have played Moffat County in the past. We know that those teams are good teams."
Teams in Pool B are Steamboat Springs, Grand Junction Central, Palisade and Glenwood Springs.
The top two teams from each pool advance to the semifinals Saturday afternoon. The No. 1 seed from Pool A will face the No. 2 seed from Pool B. Likewise, the top team from Pool B will face the No. 2 team from Pool A.
"We are in a tough pool," said Haddan. "Cortez has a really strong team and Rifle's only losses have been in conference play. Our goal is to finish in the top two of our pool."
Winners of the semifinals will face each other in the championship game and will earn automatic berths to the regional tournament the following weekend.
Losers will play in an all-important consolation match that will determine the third-place finishers. That team will play in a pigtail game for a chance to get to regional. The site for that tournament will be determined after district play is completed.