When the Eagle Valley High School volleyball team is on the court, there is little doubt that senior outside hitter Kenzie Shreeve is the go-to girl.
Whenever Shreeve touched the ball Saturday against Moffat County, the Devils controlled the Bulldogs; when the ball stayed out of her touch, the canines controlled. By the end of the match, Shreeve's teammates were able to find her frequently enough for a four-game win over the Bulldogs, 25-23, 21-25, 25-14, 25-19.
"It's not odd in high school for one player to be able to carry a team," Moffat County coach Becky Howlett said. "We didn't work our way around her enough."
When Shreeve rotated to the back row, the Bulldogs would rally. When she was up front, they had no answer for her powerful kills except to hope that they would fly out-of-bounds.
"In a way it's easier to know where to block, because it's going to go to the same place," Bulldog senior Kaylee Perry said. "We felt like we could compete against them, but we couldn't stop (Shreeve) even when we were there."
The Bulldogs led in three of the four games. They were up 23-21 in the first set before the Devils scored five straight to take the game.
In the second set, the Bulldogs took full advantage of Shreeve in the back row early on. They went up 10-3 and were up 20-12 before the rotation put with the Devils' big hitter up front. The visitors rallied to get within 24-21 before Moffat County wrapped it up.
The third game belonged to Eagle Valley.
In the fourth game, the Bulldogs were once again up big early with a 10-4 lead. Then Shreeve showed why she has signed to play college Division 1 volleyball. Behind her blocks and kills, the Devils outscored the Bulldogs 21-9 the rest of the way.
"It's frustrating that we are so inconsistent this late in the season," Howlett said. "It was great to see their confidence and smiles when they were doing well. That means we're still having fun. But we need to be better."
The Bulldog netters have a break from Western Slope League play Tuesday with a triangular against Meeker and Vail Mountain in Meeker. On Friday, the Bulldogs play Delta in one of their most important matches of the season. If they lose to the Panthers, the Bulldogs are eliminated from the district tournament. Both teams are 3-9 and have two league matches remaining. The top six teams from the league qualify for the district tournament. Delta is in sixth place, because the Panthers beat the Bulldogs in four games in their first meeting.
"We've taken a set from the best teams in the league, so when we're on we can play with anybody," Perry said. "We have to work hard and improve this week."