Friday night's four-game match in Delta was intense for volleyball coach Brianna Montgomery. Saturday's performance by her team against Palisade was anything but.
"It's frustrating because I know they can play better," Montgomery said. "A lot of the time these girls think they are beat before the game even starts."
Delta jumped out to a two-point lead in Friday's first game, but Moffat County battled back. The serving from junior Amy Dilldine was a step in the right direction. Serving for four points and giving Moffat County the lead, Dilldine built some momentum for Moffat County, but Delta wasn't giving up.
Montgomery said earlier that Delta wasn't just going to let them come in a take it. Moffat County had to earn it, and the first game proved that.
With the score at 21-20, Delta leading, the coach opted for a timeout. It was exactly what Moffat County needed to regain the edge.
"They played us tough," Montgomery said. "It was a good game."
Delta and Moffat traded points, and with the score at 25-25, something needed to be done.
Moffat County fell back, but rebounded to take the game 31-29 off two serves from senior Shaylyn Kawcak.
"Everyone played solid on Friday," Montgomery said.
The second game belonged to Delta, after dropping down in the count, Moffat County could not find the chemistry to take game two, and lost 25-23 after mounting a six point rally.
Friday's third game was one of the better ones, Montgomery said. Moffat used a steady pace and solid defense to keep Delta at bay. With the score at 22-21, Montgomery took a timeout to rally her team.
The huddle worked and Moffat County came back in to close out the game, 25-23.
As things got down to crunch time, Moffat County knew it had to play a steady game if they hoped to go home in four.
The active pace of the game helped Moffat County extend its lead to four points. Up 20-16, Delta tried desperately to mount an offensive comeback, but stalled out at 18 points while Moffat County cruised to the 25-18 victory.
Montgomery was pleased with the finish her team strung together.
"The girls continued to take it to them," Montgomery said. "They weren't hesitant like they were on Saturday."
Playing league foe Palisade on Saturday in Palisade, Moffat County was looking for another weekend of back-to-back wins.
Palisade had a different agenda in mind.
Palisade quickly dispatched of Moffat County quickly in three games, 25-14, 25-18, 25-18.
"Palisade is a good team," Montgomery said.
What pushed Montgomery's limit was the negative attitude she received all week in practice.
"I had a lot of negative talk this week," Montgomery said. "The moment one person gets negative on the floor, the rest of the team reacts to that. It's so irritating to me."
The mounting frustration with the attitude led Montgomery to see where her team's strengths and weaknesses lie.
"It's hard to be angry because they've come so far and done so many good things," Montgomery said.
Against Palisade, Moffat County was down by just three points at 11-8, when Montgomery took a time out and looked for a spark.
"We've got to get over that last step," Montgomery said. "I think the last step, more than anything, is learning how to play as a team. As long as someone is a leader on the floor every game it doesn't matter who it is. When that one person doesn't step up and pull us through, we don't have anyone to follow."
Montgomery pulled aside junior Markie Workman on Saturday and asked her to take that role during the game.
"During the game, I asked her to step up and she did," Montgomery said.
Workman, who has shown some inconsistency in serving, didn't miss a serve the entire match.
However, that spark may have come just a little late for Moffat County, as Palisade finished out the game one win, 24-14.
The second game was more Palisade, but in keeping with this season's tradition, Moffat County hung on for a good chunk of the game.
The final score of game two was better than the first game by four points, 25-18.
The third, and what would be final game, was nearly identical in every way to the second game. The Bulldogs started by falling behind and working to no avail to mount a comeback. Even the score was identical, 25-18.
"What broke us down in the Palisade game was our defense," Montgomery said. "We had way too many digging errors."
Moffat County typically plays a scrappy defense that keeps the balls in play. But this weekend Montgomery said she didn't know what happened.
"Normally, even when a team has better hitters than us, we use our defense," Montgomery said. "I don't know what to do for them when they're on the floor."
Montogomery also said the lack of communication between the girls didn't help and that they were struggling to be in the correct position against a solid hitting team.
This week for Moffat County is a big week, with a lot riding on how they perform against two good teams -- Steamboat Springs and Eagle Valley.
Up first is Steamboat, after downing them for the first time in 16 years during homecoming week, Moffat will head 42 miles east Tuesday for its second contest, and Montgomery knows that just like the first time around, it will be a battle.
"The girls have put themselves in a tight situation," Montgomery said. "It's a huge week for us. And they have to do pretty well to accomplish the goal they set for themselves."
The goal being to make districts, which is attainable as long as they come away with two wins.
Tuesday's game is set for 6 p.m. at Steamboat Springs High School. Thursday marks the final home game of the season for Moffat County, with tip-off at 6 p.m. at Moffat County High School.