It might be a little early to break out the "Defense Wins Championships" slogan for the Moffat County volleyball team, but defense certainly wins the team matches.
The Bulldogs defeated the Rifle Bears in three games, 25-17, 25-22, 25-9, on Thursday night. Coach Becky Jackson credited the win to her team's defense.
"I've never had a team that hustles and keeps the ball alive like this one," Moffat County coach Becky Jackson said. "When you keep the ball alive, it breaks the other team down."
The Bulldogs' defensive abilities didn't go unnoticed.
"They're an exceptional de--fensive team," Rifle coach Geneva Farr said.
Jackson prepared the Bull-dogs for a match that would be similar to their five-game win against Rangely on Tuesday. If the Bears were as good as Rangely, the Bulldog spikers were much improved in two days.
"We came out more prepared and focused," senior Brittany Goss said. "We really stayed level today and recovered well after giving up a point."
Rifle led in the first two games at 12-11 and 15-14, but the Bulldogs were rally killers. They never let the Bears score more than three consecutive points all evening.
"We were able to keep our valleys to a minimum tonight," Jackson said. "The girls did a good job of recovering after losing a point."
In the first game, the Bulldogs' big defensive effort came when Rifle led, 12-11. Moffat senior Mari Katherine Raftopoulos had blocks on consecutive points to give the Bulldogs a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
In the third game, Moffat senior April Sanchez and sophomore Angie Charchalis combined for 14 points on their serves.
"I thought our service game was the best it's been all year," Jackson said. "Our third game was also probably our highest hitting percentage of the season, as well."
Rifle has struggled to this point in the season, winning only one game in five matches, but Farr was upbeat about her team's effort Thursday.
"We didn't even show up against Glenwood," she said about her team's opening Western Slope League match Tuesday. "Tonight though, if we're going to lose, this is the way I like to see it: The heart and the desire were there tonight."
For Farr, the Bears' highlights came from sophomore Abbey Schmidt, who had four kills, and senior Tiffany Hardy, who, "played defense like an animal."
The win improved Moffat County to 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in the WSL.
Up next for the Bulldogs is Glenwood Springs, which defeated Steamboat Springs in four games Thursday. The Demons are now 7-0.
"They have two of the best blockers in the state," Jackson said about Saturday's opponent. "To beat them, we have to neutralize their strengths."