Middle schoolers catch up quickly

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Without a youth volleyball league in Craig, the first most girls learn anything about the sport is in seventh grade at Craig Middle School.

This year, that meant that coaches Diana Booco and Debbie Markham were the first to teach them about the basics.

"We spend the first two weeks on the basics," Booco said. "Then, throughout the season, we consistently recap the fundamentals."

This year's group of seventh-graders was full of fast learners.

"They understood quite well," Booco said. " Within a couple of weeks they were able to run a high school-level offense."

Booco didn't have the team's exact record, but she said they "had their fair share of wins and losses."

The coach said that Steam--boat Springs and Hayden teams were their most competitive matches.

"One of the best improvements I was proud of was that they learned to play as a team," Booco said.

The eighth-grade girls came into the season with a target on their backs because they won the district tournament last year.

Coach Susan Gregg coached the girls in seventh and eighth grades.

"They improved quite a bit from the first year," she said. "They were at the point where they could set it up almost every play. In seventh grade, that didn't happen"

The eighth-graders finished 4-4, with two wins against rival Steamboat.

"After we lost to Hayden, the girls said, 'We have to beat Steamboat,'" Gregg said. "They were a very competitive group that didn't like to lose."

The Bulldogs swept Steamboat Springs with two closely contested, three-game matches.

Gregg said that the team's best match of the year was against Grandby.

"They set it up nearly every play," she said. "Grandby was a good team and we took it to them."

The girls didn't have a chance to defend their district title because the tournament didn't happen this year.

"It's too bad we didn't have a tournament because they really didn't get to play that much," Gregg said. "We had so many girls out it was hard to get them all playing time."

Craig is one of the few schools large enough to have three teams at each age group. The girls on the C Team don't have an opponent every weekend.

"We just tried to get them all in as much as possible," said Gregg.

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