Craig Heading into conference play against Steamboat Springs this afternoon, the Moffat County High School girls varsity volleyball team made sure not to overlook Thursday's road contest against Grand Junction High School.
The Bulldogs beat the Tigers in four games, 25-23, 25-27, 25-14, 25-23.
"It was a tough match for us," head coach Brianna Montgomery said. "They were a solid team. The girls played awesome."
The smaller conference 4A Bulldogs fell to the larger 5A Tigers in four games last year but under different circumstances.
"Last year's team was injured, and they had just put a new coach in place," Tigers coach Shane Allerheiligen said. "We wanted to see if they were at the same caliber as last year. They weren't. They were better."
The Bulldogs hadn't beaten Grand Junction for as long as coach Montgomery can remember.
"I think we caught them off guard a bit," Montgomery said. "They've beaten us many times, but not this time."
Isolating single, stand-out players was difficult for the Bulldog coach.
"To be honest," she said. "We played extremely well as a team. The girls communicated really well on the floor, and they knew where each one of them had to be at all times."
Practicing all week on the swing - faster passing resulting in more quality touches - was the key to victory, Montgomery said.
"The girls picked up the swing really well," she said. "That's how we ended up with as many kills as we did."
The Bulldogs finished with 21 kills.
Moffat County also cut down on mental mistakes against the Tigers, resulting in fewer errors, enabling them to keep the ball in play more, Montgomery said.
"That gave us the chance to be more successful," she said. "And, boy, were they. They fed off of each other."
Now 2-0 heading into conference play this afternoon, Montgomery is excited for the heated rivalry that takes place when the Bulldogs and Sailors square off.
"We are all super excited for the Steamboat match," she said. "It's the first conference game, and it's our arch rival. What more could you want?"
With the quick turnaround after the Grand Junction match, Montgomery hasn't changed her game plan for the Sailors.
She's simply fine-tuned it.
"We're working on game-day prep, and that's about it," she said. "The conference is pretty even. We're waiting to see who steps up."