Ask the seniors of the Moffat County High School volleyball team what drives them this year, and you’ll get one answer:
This is what gives them the desire to improve where they need it, the strength to support each other on the court and the will to finish out their athletic careers victorious.
Moffat County High School 2014 volleyball schedule
Time, Date — Opponent, Home/Away
TBD, Aug. 30 — Aspen (Varsity tournament), away
TBD, Aug. 30 — Grand Valley (Junior varsity and C-team tournament), away
4 p.m., Sept. 4 — Steamboat Springs, away
TBD, Sept 5 and 6 —Delta (All teams tournament), away
11 a.m., Sept. 13 — Roaring Fork, away
4 p.m., Sept. 18 — Coal Ridge, away
4 p.m., Sept. 23 — Aspen, home
4 p.m., Oct. 2 — Grand Valley, home
11 a.m., Oct 4 — Olathe, home
4 p.m., Oct. 9 — Coal Ridge, home
1 p.m., Oct. 11 — Gunnison, home
4:30 p.m., Oct. 16 — Steamboat Springs, home
11 a.m., Oct. 18 — Grand Valley, away
4 p.m., Oct. 21 — Basalt, away
TBD, Oct. 24 and 25 — Grand Valley (League tournament), away
— All games include varsity, JV and C-team unless otherwise noted. Times listed are for the C-team, which is followed by JV and varsity in play. All games are subject to change.
The players and coaches of MCHS volleyball have set their sights on a winning season, following last year’s series, which left them near the bottom of the 3A Western Slope League rankings.
Some adjustments to the WSL for this year will pay off for the Bulldogs. The division has gone from 10 to eight teams, losing strong contender Rifle, as well as Cedaredge. However, last year’s league leader, Gunnison, is still a team Coach Starla Jensen believes will be tough to beat.
“Game time will tell,” she said. “We have to be prepared for every team we play.”
This is Jensen’s second year coaching for MCHS, and she anticipates her team will be able to grow more this season thanks to greater familiarity on her part, as well as the presence of new assistant coach Erin Knez. Jensen commutes from Baggs, Wyoming, and having someone within Craig working with the team will help make things “smoother.”
Practices have been “intense” thus far, which has been good for the physical part of the game, but there’s something else Jensen wants her players to keep in mind.
“Our mental game is really important,” she said. “We really need to improve communication.”
With a healthy work ethic among her hitters, Jensen isn’t too concerned about balancing out the different elements of the sport.
“These girls have worked really hard on their technique and the fundamental part of the game, they’ve all made a lot of progress,” she said. “I’m really excited about their willingness to come into the gym and work hard. They’re learning to challenge each other, which will help with the mental game.”
Jensen added that her upperclassmen have stepped up in leadership roles.
“They have done very well being leaders for these guys, and they’re a good bunch of seniors,” Jensen said. “I’ve got a good bunch of girls, period.”
The volleyball program graduated seven seniors last year. Former juniors Britney Rothermund, Tiawna Smercina and Alex and Lauren Samuelson are now serving as the most experienced members of the squad, ready to make their senior year one to remember.
“Everyone that’s here wants to be here,” said Alex Samuelson.
Serving as role models for the younger girls across the three levels — varsity, junior varsity and the freshmen C-team — is an important part of being a senior, she added.
“We want the girls to grow up and love it, so they can play when they’re seniors and be really good,” she said.
The example they hope to set is one of appreciating the game in its good moments and bad, Rothermund said.
“No matter what in a game, you should be having fun,” she said. “It should be serious but fun.”
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.