If it's not the size of the dog in the fight, then it has to be the size of the fight in the dog.
The Moffat County Bulldogs varsity volleyball team rallied to come back from behind in three straight games against the Delta Panthers on Friday night, 25-23, 25-23 and 25-22.
"I kept saying 'Get out of the valley. Get out of the valley,'" head coach Becky Jackson said. "We're a team that can climb the mountain, peak and then lose the momentum. All of our errors can be controlled."
The first match showed fans a team that nobody recognized.
"This is not your game," Jackson told players during the first time out.
The first three plays of the game were a rude awakening for the Bulldogs as the Panthers' Kelsey Ross and Bria Lovato each hammered home a hit that left Bulldogs defenders motionless. With a score of 8-11 in Delta's favor, a twisted ankle sent senior Brittany Goss to the bench, and junior Shaylyn Kawcak replaced Goss at the setter position. A comedy of hitting, returning and serving errors set the pace for most of the match.
Then the 'Dogs began to climb the mountain.
Angie Charchalis came back from a timeout and was too hot to handle for the Panthers. Sanchez added two kills to tie the game at 23, and it was all Sanchez at the net to earn the Bulldogs a 25-23 win.
"My hitting was a reflection of all of my teammates," Sanchez said. "If I get a great hit, it's because somebody made an awesome pass, and my setter gave me an awesome set."
Game 2 looked as if it might be a repeat of Game 1 with a worse ending. The Bulldogs were down 2-5 before the team knew what hit it.
Brittany Goss and Mari Katherine Raftopoulos collided at the net for a lost opportunity, and Delta seemed to know exactly where the target was -- in the center of the court, just out of fingertip reach for all six Bulldog defenders.
Goss led the march out of the trenches with patience and planning to tip two over the net just out of reach of Panther defenders, and sophomore Markie Workman drove home three outside hits in a row to bring the Bulldogs within a point of the Panthers.
Workman and sophomore Amy Dilldine brought down the house with a block against Delta junior Bridgetted Stramel to bring the Bulldogs to 19-17 in the final minutes of the second match. The momentum was all Moffat County's.
"I felt like my hits were on, because I was connecting with the team better than usual," Workman said.
The Bulldogs face a tough Palisade team t oday at noon, and they all seem to know that focus, attention to detail and momentum are the keys to a win.
"Palisade always has a strong team," Jackson said. "We can make mistakes, and we can have errors, but we can't do it repeatedly."
And it's clear that putting momentum in their court from the beginning is the answer to a strong finish.
"We have to find momentum quicker and better," Sanchez said. "Our focus has to be on coming out strong early. We can't get behind."