Coal Ridge sneaks past Moffat County volleyball
Moffat County High School varsity volleyball has a monkey problem.
Head coach Starla Jensen described her team as having a monkey on their collective backs in the form of a mental hang-up on their home court that has cost them games they could certainly win. She knows they can overcome the pesky primate, but the time will have to be soon.
The Lady Bulldogs — 2-10 overall, 0-1 in the 3A Western Slope League — fell, 3-0, in a non-conference game against the visiting Coal Ridge Titans — 4-6 overall — Thursday night with sets of 25-23, 25-20 and 25-15.
Moffat County led the majority of the opening round, with a cushion of as much as four points, but the Titans were able to creep up behind the Bulldogs at every opportunity, tying things up at 15, 20, 21, 22 and 23 before finally surpassing them for good.
“I think we expected Coal Ridge to come in here and be the powerhouse they’ve been in the past, and it kind of caught us off-guard,” Jensen said.
Coal Ridge stayed in front the entirety of the following two sets, and despite Moffat County’s ability to get on a run, the early leads — six points in the second set, 10 in the third — made all the difference.
“We can come back, there’s no doubt about that, but the gap can’t be that big,” said assistant coach Erin Knez.
The Lady Dogs recorded 17 total kills throughout the night and had a 92 percent success rate in serving. Jensen also noted the combined efforts of Mattie Jo Duzik, Charli Earle, Morgan Lawton and Hannah Walker at the net that was a huge difference-maker.
“We’re a strong blocking team,” she said of their ability to shut down the Titan offense multiple times.
Among Coal Ridge’s accomplishments were a dozen kills by heavy hitter Kaitlyn Detlefsen alone.
“That’s her MO in the middle on our team,” smiled Titans coach Aimee Gerber.
Both teams are coming off 3-0 defeats to 4A schools — Moffat County to Steamboat Springs and Coal Ridge to Eagle Valley — earlier this week and will face off again Oct. 15 in New Castle for WSL honors. The Titans head straight into a Saturday doubleheader that will open league play for them against Gunnison and Olathe.
“It’s gonna be a big one for us,” Gerber said.
Moffat County meanwhile will have a weekend breather, traveling to Aspen and Olathe in the coming week before returning home to host Basalt Oct. 3, all three of which will count as league games.
MCHS had a better record on the road than at home last season, and Jensen hopes to switch up that mental mindset so they can play to their full potential in front of the Craig crowd. Still, the pressure the athletes put on themselves might be part of the problem.
“They come out ready, and then that monkey just starts crawling,” she said.
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For the first time in 18 months, the Moffat County High School auditorium will fill with music and singing from students, as the school performs MCHS’s musical, “Beauty and the Beast.”