MCHS junior Natasha Romney hits through the Rifle defense Thursday. The Bulldogs earned a five-game comeback victory in their conference opener, 23-25, 17-25, 25-12, 25-21 and 19-17.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

MCHS junior Natasha Romney hits through the Rifle defense Thursday. The Bulldogs earned a five-game comeback victory in their conference opener, 23-25, 17-25, 25-12, 25-21 and 19-17.

Bulldogs fight back for conference-opening win

Backed in a corner Thursday night, the Bulldogs did what Bulldogs do.

They fought back.

Down two games to none to visiting Rifle, the Moffat County High School girls volleyball team rallied for a 23-25, 17-25, 25-12, 25-21, 19-17, come-from-behind win in the team's Western Slope League opener.

"We kept saying that we just needed to break through," MCHS coach Brianna Montgomery said about when her team was down 0-2 in the best-of-five contest. "We did just that. We came though at the best possible time."

The Bears (5-2 overall, 0-2 WSL) entered the game searching for their first league victory since 2003.

They almost had it Thursday.

"We have a completely different team than in the past," Rifle coach Geneva Farr said. "But, we still need to get past that we-can-do-it-all-the-way confidence thing. Moffat County just out-hustled us."

The Bears had all the hustle in the beginning, coming back from 20-16 down in Game 1 to pull out a 25-23 win.

Rifle pulled away from the Bulldogs in Game 2, taking an early 3-1 deficit and turning it into an 8-3 lead the away team wouldn't relinquish, on its way to a 25-17 Game 2 win.

"We didn't sense that we were going to win" the match, Farr said. "We just wanted to play solid ball. We did, but unfortunately, we didn't play solid long enough."

When the teams changed sides entering Game 3, Moffat County (2-2 overall, 1-0 WSL) picked up something other than a different view of the net.

They picked up the momentum.

The Bulldogs blazed out to a 9-3 lead behind the serving of junior Natasha Romney (10 kills, 2 blocks) and blew through the Bears on their way to a 25-12 victory.

With Rifle newly on their heels, the Bulldogs became more aggressive.

An ace by sophomore Lauren Roberts (14 kills, 2 blocks) put the Bulldogs up 17-7, and a crushing kill by senior Ariel Sanchez (14 kills, 18 digs) clinched the fourth game.

The teams exchanged rallies in the fifth and final frame, pulling even at 11.

Rifle had opportunities to close the match, serving at 15-14, 16-15 and 17-16, but the Bears couldn't get that all-too-elusive final point.

MCHS junior Jordan Maneotis stepped up and over the Bears, flying in from the left outside position for the Bulldogs' final three points - three emphatic kills - and the match victory that came along with them.

"It was all adrenaline," Maneotis said of her late-game heroics. "We knew we needed it. We needed this win, and we got it."

The Bulldogs have a quick turnaround, as the team travels to compete at Montrose today.

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