Volleyball season ends on a high note

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The Cinderella slipper didn't quite fit for the Moffat County High School volleyball team at the regional tournament.

"We just didn't have it this weekend," said coach Becky Howlett. "We struggled to hustle on defense and it lost us some points."

The results weren't all bad for the Bulldogs as they came back after two losses and defeated Berthoud to win their final match of the season.

"The Berthoud match said a lot about the girls," Howlett said. "They knew they were done but they went out there with heart and played the way they were capable."

Moffat County opened the day against the top seed in the tournament and the fourth-ranked team in the state, Ralston Valley. After losing the first game 16-25, they rallied several times in the next two games but were unable to get a win. The Mustangs took the final two games, 22-25, 16-25.

The next match went similarly for the blue and white as they lost the first game by a sizeable amount, 10-25, to the fifth-ranked team in the state, Montezuma-Cortez. The next two games were close, 22-25, 21-25, but the Panthers took the match in straight games.

"When we got there, we watched the Berthoud/Cortez match and the girls were confident that we could play at that level after watching," Howlett said. "But the difference this week from last week (at the district tournament) was that we didn't perform like we could in every aspect."

In the last match against Berthoud, both teams had been eliminated from a trip to state so it was a fight to see who hadn't turned off their game.

Berthoud had just fought through a tough match against Ralston Valley in which it won the first game but then was unable to capitalize and lost in four games.

"I gathered the girls together before the match and encouraged them to end the season on a good note," Howlett said. "They didn't have to try because they knew they were out, but they were looking for that final win."

Moffat County and Berthoud proved to be as evenly matched as their 12th and 13th seeds indicated as both won two of the first four games. The Bulldogs took the second and fourth games, 25-17, 25-18, and Berthoud took the first and third, 27-25, 25-21. In the final game of both teams' seasons, neither wanted to go down and the game went into extra points with the Bulldogs prevailing, 17-15.

Not many teams get to end their seasons with a win, but the Bulldogs earned that chance in a season that they were able to reach both of their goals.

"We finished above .500 and made it to a regional tournament," Howlett said. "It was a great season looking at the history of success these seniors had."

This Bulldog team was the first to play in a regional tournament in more than 10 years. With the final win, the Bulldogs finished anywhere from 12th to ninth in the state overall.

In Howlett's first year, she was proud of what the six seniors, Sheena Davis, Natalie Field, Ashlee Hafey, Brittany Hutton, Stephanie Kloos and Lauren Stover, as well as the four underclassmen, MaRanda Camilletti, Mari Katherine Raftopoulos, April Sanchez and Brandie Telfer accomplished.

"Now the challenge for me next year to see if I have helped establish a program or if I inherited talent that was already good without me," she said. "Those girls did a lot to make it a good season for the program and for me."

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com.

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