Jazmine Swindler gets down for a dig Tuesday at Moffat County High School. Swindler was one of seven to celebrate senior night in Craig, but the team lost to Rifle in five sets, 25-22, 22-25, 21-25, 25-12, 15-8.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Jazmine Swindler gets down for a dig Tuesday at Moffat County High School. Swindler was one of seven to celebrate senior night in Craig, but the team lost to Rifle in five sets, 25-22, 22-25, 21-25, 25-12, 15-8.

Moffat County volleyball just misses on senior night

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Other scores

Moffat County C team lost, 25-23, 25-20

Moffat County JV won, 18-25, 25-13, 15-13

— Senior night for the Moffat County volleyball team was looking good but finished with a sour ending.

The Bulldogs, hosting Rifle in their final regular season game this year, pushed the Bears to the brink but couldn’t finish them off. Moffat lost in five sets Tuesday, 25-22, 22-25, 21-25, 25-12, 15-8.

After an emotional ceremony for the team’s seven seniors, the Bulldogs came out of the gates slow. The team’s passing was erratic and fell behind early. After closing the gap to one point, the Bears were the better team and pulled away with a win in the first set.

Moffat County senior Shaylyn Buckley said the emotions hadn’t quite calmed down from the pregame ceremony in the first set.

“The first game, the seniors were kind of out of it,” she said. “We just weren’t ready to play that quickly after the stuff before the game.”

The Bulldogs did step up their play in the following set, jumping out to an early lead, then falling behind 13-17. But they closed out the set strong, scoring five straight at one point to put the Bears away.

In the third, neither team was able to take a lead of greater than three points until the very end. From 20-20, the Bulldogs won five of six points, capped by an ace from Jazmine Swindler, to take a 2-1 lead.

“We were definitely the better team in those second and third sets,” head coach Starla Jensen said.

But the fourth set played out in a different fashion. Rifle built a small lead early, then at 12-8 went on a huge run to push the game to a decisive fifth set.

Jensen said the team wasn’t as aggressive attacking the ball in that fourth set, and Buckley felt their talking disappeared, making it a forgettable one for the Bulldogs.

“I really think we had it there,” Buckley said about the team’s position entering the fourth. “But in the fourth game, nobody was talking, and I really think we just fell back asleep.”

Unfortunately, the team didn’t wake up quickly enough in the fifth set. The decisive set is played to just 15 points, so falling behind by more than a couple of points early is more costly.

Moffat County sent a couple spikes long and put a serve into the net, the type of mistakes it couldn’t afford. The Bulldogs fell behind and couldn’t recover, losing 15-8.

“Once they got the lead, it’s hard to make it up,” Buckley said. “Especially once they get 12 or 13 points. That’s not as much in (a normal set), but to 15, it’s hard.”

It was possibly the last game of the season for Moffat County. Not all of the 10 teams in the 3A Western Slope League are invited to districts beginning Oct. 25. Moffat will await other results to see whether its two league wins are enough to make it.

If it is its final game of the year, Jensen is proud of what the team has become from where it started.

Rifle "was our first league game of the season, and they walked all over us down there,” Jensen said. “For us to come out and play them to five games and really have a chance to beat them, it shows what these girls have done.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com.

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