RIFLE - Down 8-2 in the third game, Rifle volleyball coach Geneva Farr called for a timeout to re-energize her troops.
Farr's Bears were two games up on visiting Moffat County, but the lead didn't feel safe. Not after the Bulldogs rallied from two down to knock off Rifle in Craig on Sept. 11.
"I called that timeout and said, 'Look, you girls are capable of this. You just have to finish the product, finish what we started,'" Farr said.
Her team responded, reeling off 16 of the next 19 points to put the Bulldogs away and spur any chance of history repeating itself. The Bears went on to beat Moffat County in three (26-24, 25-21, 25-16) in Rifle on Thursday.
It was the Bears' second 4A Western Slope League win of the season after four straight 0-14 campaigns. They broke a nearly five-year league losing skid against Delta back Sept. 18.
Slowly but surely, the Bears are learning how to work together to finish off points - and opposing teams. That, said at least one player, can be credited to the team's togetherness.
"We have really great chemistry," senior Morgan Patrick said. "Everyone was on top of their game."
Patrick said she and her teammates wanted, more than anything, to avoid a reprise of the teams' previous meeting.
"We didn't want that to happen again," she said. "Coach made sure we were focused on our game."
Marathon volleys and sideouts aplenty flavored the early going of Thursday's match, with Rifle and Moffat playing to 12 ties in an opening game the Bears eventually won by two points. The host Bears rallied from a 22-19 deficit and were taken to game point before getting the job done.
With the exception of a hiccup or two - including that third-game hole they dug themselves into - the Bears (7-6 overall, 2-6 in the 4A WSL) were in control of the match.
Patrick finished with a team-high 14 kills. Brianna Bascom also came up big at the net, smashing eight kills. Abby Rath added five and Sandy Samson set up teammates with 28 assists.
"Rifle played well," Moffat County coach Brianna Montgomery said. "They played a good game. They kept the ball alive well."
Montgomery didn't reserve similar praise for her squad.
"We didn't play well," she said, flatly. "We just weren't meshing like we usually do."
Lauren Roberts led the Bulldogs (2-11 overall, 1-7 in the 4A WSL) with five kills. She was tailed by Tasha Romney, Megan Trujillo and Ariel Sanchez with three apiece.