The Moffat County volleyball team will be hitting the road Friday for its first away match of the season, but up first is a tough home stand Thursday against Grand Junction High School.
Grand Junction will be bringing its tough defense against a youthful yet solid Bulldog offense.
Against Fruita, the Bulldogs pulled out their A game and pushed the powerhouse to eliminate small mistakes to secure the win. Although the match went just three games, the play was solid by both teams.
The Tigers will be packing some punch this year, with a strong core of returning players who know how to get the job done on the court. They are coming off a tournament win in Glenwood Springs, defeating rival Grand Junction Central.
During the championship game against Central, Grand Junction's Anoinette McCormick threw down 10 kills, and Mackenzie Perino dished up 25 assists.
Bulldog interim coach Deb Yoast doesn't quite know what to expect from the Tigers, but she is preparing her team for challenging games.
"I expect that they'll be really tough," Yoast said. "Any 5A school is tough."
Senior Deidra Gray knows her team will have to work hard to beat Grand Junction.
"They'll most likely be strong in both blocking and hitting," Gray said about the Tigers. "If we work as a team and play like we did against Fruita, we can push them."
On Friday, the Bulldogs head 48 miles to Meeker, a 2A team that they faced in the preseason.
"Meeker has always been tough," Yoast said. "I have to go into it with the attitude that they will be very competitive against us."
Meeker's coach, Christy Atwood, is another coach who is in her first year, but has been around volleyball for quite some time. As an official, Atwood has seen her share of good and bad teams, but she thinks that her team this year is adapting well.
"I think we'll be strong all around," Atwood said. "We are developing strong hitters and working on adapting to my coaching philosophy."
With six seniors on the team, the experience that Atwood has at the net is valuable to the success of her team.
"Two seniors have really stepped up and taken a lead role this year," Atwood said.
One of those seniors is Amye Brown a former outside hitter who has transitioned into the middle blocker and middle hitter.
"Amye has done a great job taking on her new roll," Atwood said.
The other senior is Rachel Wix, a former frontline player who has stepped to the back.
"We are letting Rachel play back row so she can showcase her defensive skills," Atwood said.
Meeker lost to the Bulldogs in the preseason scrimmage and will be on the attack when Moffat County rolls into town Friday night.
The second road trip of the weekend for Moffat County will be a two-hour jaunt to Grand Junction to face off against Central High School.
Central is coming off a loss to Grand Junction High School but still had a successful weekend at the Glenwood Springs Invitational, hitter Trista Seibert had 23 kills in the match against the Tigers, and the Warriors will be looking to continue their powerful hitting game.
Gray said that because of the unique situation the Bulldogs are in, many people didn't expect them to perform as well as they have.
"I don't think many teams could stay as strong as we have," Gray said.
That strength will be tested during the three days of games Moffat County is heading into.
The match against the Tigers is slated to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday at Moffat County High School.
Melanie McDaniels can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org.