The seventh-grade volleyball teams at Craig Middle School split a pair of matches with Steamboat Springs on Saturday morning.
The seventh-grade games, which took place in the gym at Sandrock Elementary School, are played in a best-of-three sets format. In the first match of the day, the B Team beat Steamboat in two sets, 25-18, 25-19.
In both sets, the Bulldogs were able to create a short run to take the lead and then play from ahead the rest of the set. Head coach Melissa Dowd was pleased with the way they played.
“They did really well. I was really proud of them,” Dowd said.
In the second match, the A Teams squared off, and Steamboat prevailed in three sets, 25-21, 23-25, 15-4. Each of the first two sets was hotly contested.
In the first, CMS rallied from seven points down thanks to strong serving from Caitlin Reed. But the Sailors would respond with another run of their own and win 25-21 before the Bulldogs could respond.
The second set played close throughout, with CMS clinging to a one- or two-point lead as the teams exchanged points for much of the set. After the Bulldogs won a key point to go ahead, 24-23, MaKenna Baker put in a service ace to seal the set.
In the third set, Steamboat quickly took a large lead. Tiebreaker sets are played to just 15 points, and the Bulldogs were unable to mount a charge in time. They lost, 15-4.
Dowd said her team sometimes gets in its own way after it falls behind.
“They just get this mental block if they fall behind,” she said. “If they are losing in the beginning, they tend to lag a bit. But today, they still tried hard, and I can’t fault them for that.”
Dowd said her players’ fight was good the entire match.
“Their effort today was very good,” she said. “I really appreciate the hustle they showed today, so I’m pleased.”
Although losses are no fun, Dowd knows the seventh-grade team is an introduction to competitive volleyball for many players, so teaching the athletes to play the correct way is important to her, as well. She said she has seen significant improvement during the season.
“The girls are doing very well. They’ve come a long way from the beginning of the season,” Dowd said. “The main thing I do with seventh grade is working on their passing and serving. If I can get them to get those three hits, I’m happy.”
The Bulldogs now have one match remaining at Soroco before their district tournament begins Oct. 13 in Steamboat Springs.
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Craig Daily Press sports coverage on Twitter at @CDP_Sports