Homeward bound | CraigDailyPress.com

Homeward bound

Soccer, volleyball teams glad to have road trips over with

David Pressgrove

School busses are not designed for three-hour road trips. No matter what tactic — laying across both seats, curling up in a ball or finding some room in the aisle — it’s just not comfortable.

Just ask members of the Moffat County volleyball and soccer teams — they’ve been on the bus for 75 percent of their games at this point in the season.

“The guys have adapted to the bus rides,” coach Jeff Hammond said. “They have their individual strategies on how to get comfortable, but no matter what, those busses are made for transporting kids, not comfort.”

The spikers finish their first time through opponents in the Western Slope League on Saturday with, what else, a road match against Battle Mountain.

“Road matches turn into 11- and 12-hour days for us,” coach Becky Jackson said. “It can be absolutely exhausting.”

The road warriors on both teams are preparing for their rewards of traveling in September:a lot of home games in October.

In September, the Bulldog soccer players played six games on the road and two home games. The volleyball team also has played eight times, six of which were on the road.

The good news for the road-weary ‘Dogs is that even after a tough road schedule, both teams are in position to make the post season.

“We hit a mental plateau last week with some tough road matches,” Jackson said. “But I think we can alleviate those problems at home.”

The volleyball team is 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the league. It is in fifth place in the league behind Steamboat Springs (4-3), Palisade (9-1), Glenwood Springs (9-1) and Battle Mountain (9-1).

The soccer team took two tough one-goal losses on the road to Glenwood Springs and Rifle and sit at 3-3 in the league. The one-goal losses put the Bulldogs behind Rifle (2-2), Glenwood (5-1) and Battle Mountain (5-0).

“I always tell the guys that, in this league, you start the game with a one-goal advantage when you’re at home,” Hammond said. “That plays to our advantage now.”

The soccer team has five of six WSL games at home the second half of the season.

“We have to win the games against teams we beat on the road,” Hammond said. “Then with games against Rifle, Glen–wood and Battle Mountain anything can happen but we’ll be in there.”

Hammond’s crew starts the second time around the league Saturday with a home game against Eagle Valley at 11 a.m.

The volleyball team also hosts Eagle Valley next but not on Saturday, their match is today. The Bulldogs haven’t seen the Devils this season, and Jackson said their 1-4 record could be deceiving.

“We’re in no position to assume we can just show up and beat (Eagle Valley),” Jackson said. “They have a great coach with a great tradition.”

After the first half of the season finishes Saturday, Jackson said she hopes to see her team use the home-court advantage in matches against Steamboat, Palisade and Glenwood the second time around.

“If we could split with some of those teams we lost to on the road, it would be a big momentum booster,” she said. “Then we have Battle Mountain, who has established themselves as the top team in the league, the last home game of the season. We’re excited about that.”

The Bulldogs were 1-3 on the road in WSL play with the match against Battle Mountain still to come. They’ll have only Eagle Valley and Rifle on the road in October.

“If we can play like we did against Glenwood on the road things will go well at home,” Jackson said. “We lost to (Glen–wood) in three games but they were all close and afterward I was glad we’d get to see them again at home.”

With his team starting to come together, Hammond was excited for the way the schedule worked out.

“We’re starting to gel and come together,” he said. “The road trips helped us feel more like a family and now after we’ve got things figured out they have to come play us in our house.”

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