Amping up aggression, Moffat County volleyball bests Bears in Rifle rematch
For Craig Press
If Moffat County High School volleyball players were worried about a pattern forming, they nipped that habit in the bud Monday night.
MCHS girls proved their dominance in their second matchup within a week against Rifle, sending the Bears packing in a 3-1 home victory.
The Lady Bulldogs started their schedule by ekeing out a five-game win in Rifle, but they fell in the same lengthy manner in their home opener with Gunnison, a 3-2 defeat.
Following a 2-1 loss by C-Team and a 2-0 win by their JV, familiar habits seemed to rearing up right away at the varsity level as the Bears took advantage of early miscues in the Bulldogs’ back row for a quick lead. The score evened out quickly as hitters Taytum Smercina, Olivia Profumo, Abbe Adams and Cayden King got into attack mode, yet the Bears ended the opening set with the 25-22 win.
Coach Jessica Profumo noted she was hesitant to let players rest on their laurels heading into the rematch with a team they’d already topped.
“That can be tricky because if you’ve already won, sometimes you don’t come into it as hard,” she said. “I told them, we are not playing nice anymore. Keep the pressure up.”
Lady Dogs had a similarly slow beginning to the second set, but once the home squad got in gear, Bears started feeling the effects.
“I was telling the girls, always look for junk. If there’s pressure on them, they’re just gonna throw anything over, and there was a lot landing in the 10-foot line area,” coach Profumo said.
MoCo athletes claimed a 25-22 W in the second set, but they truly showed who was in charge in the third as the Bulldogs racked up a 14-1 run on the strength of kill after kill by King and anchored at the service line by Ashlyn Simpson.
Simpson said she could feel a difference in the energy of this matchup with Rifle.
“We did better on serves, we talked more and we definitely adjusted to their short passes,” she said.
MCHS nearly kept the Bears to a single-digit score at 24-9, but a game point flub let Rifle pick up a few desperation points before the set closed at 25-12.
For the third time in four days, the Lady Dogs were faced with the possibility of going home early or moving to a tension-filled final round.
And, their coach wasn’t letting them forget that Set 4 could make or break them.
“I try not to tell them what to feel, but tonight I was saying, ‘You guys will get angry and play with aggression,’ and they really did an excellent job,” coach Profumo said.
Rifle started the fourth strong with a 5-1 initial advantage, but once the Bulldogs started overtaking them at 6-all, the Bears had to kiss the lead goodbye. MoCo net play combined with an abundance of Rifle fouls helped the Lady Dogs push their way forward, the final play of the night a combined block by King and Olivia Profumo to make it 25-16 for MoCo.
Besides two solo and two assists as far as blocks, King was on a rampage with her hitting, gaining 16 of the team’s 39 kills, with Profumo and Smercina tied with seven each. With 18 aces, Adams notched seven, Simpson four and Smercina three.
As the team’s designated setter, Jacie Evenson claimed 32 assists, noting that she got into a groove in the position as the match continued.
“Cayden and I really connected tonight with the slides and the ones in the middle. It was really fun to see our hard work like that,” Evenson said. “It’s a lot like being the quarterback, you gotta make sure everybody knows what they’re doing and execute. I know we can win if we can play like we did tonight.”
At 2-1, MCHS volleyball faces 3A Western Slope League opponent Coal Ridge starting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
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UPDATE 5:27 p.m. — Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon has reopened in both directions Saturday evening after a safety closure due to a flash flood warning. There were no reported mud/debris slides.