Bulldogs dig their way to honors

When the Moffat County volleyball team was on this year, it all started with the defense. It's no surprise that team's top defensive players were the ones to receive Western Slope League honors for the season.

"Defense was our strength, and it showed in the stats," coach Becky Jackson said. "The three girls who were honored had some strong defensive numbers."

The Bulldogs had two first-team selections in seniors April Sanchez and Mari Katherine Raftopoulos. Sophomore Angie Charchalis received honorable-mention status.

When the regular season came to an end, Sanchez led the state in digs. She finished as one of two players in Class 4A with more than 400 digs. Raftopoulos finished fourth in digs, and Charchalis was ninth.

Raftopoulos led the team in blocks and was fourth in the state.

Those stats also put the team toward the top in the state on defense.

The statistics in the Rocky Mountain News listed the Bulldogs as the best digging team in the state. They were third in Class 4A in blocks.

The highest the team finished in an offensive category was 10th in attacks.

"This team established where we want to be at the defensive level," Jackson said.

Naturally, the team's leaders were at the top in those defensive statistics.

"Those three were the ones worthy of honors," Jackson said. "I went to the league meeting, and the girls' numbers were an easy way to present them to the other coaches."

The league honors are voted on by all of the coaches in the WSL.

With the state tournament starting this week, the Bulldogs' season can be put into perspective by the teams that qualified.

The Bulldogs played three of the eight qualifying teams. The teams, Glenwood Springs, Battle Mountain and Pine Creek, all defeated the Bulldogs, but Moffat won one game from them in their matches.

"I thought we played some of our best volleyball against the best teams," Jackson said. "At times, it gave the team the taste for success."

The Bulldogs' defensive abilities kept them in games, but when it came to the matches against better teams, the offense held them back.

"When I look at the competition in the postseason, a lot of it had to do with speed and power," Jackson said. "The teams that moved on had speed and power. We need to develop that within our program to make the next step."

The Bulldogs graduate four starters this year and one other varsity contributor. They'll also return four underclassmen who played often this year.

"The program is at in incline," Jackson said about her third year as coach. "We've established this program with girls who will sacrifice everything on the court. That's a good place to start."

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