Moffat County, Hayden volleyball open season with close bouts
HAYDEN — The first competition of the year for two Northwest Colorado volleyball teams was an example on both ends of the court of how to make the most of momentum, the need to set the pace of the game and, most importantly, keeping a positive mindset for the coming weeks.
Moffat County High School fell in three sets Tuesday on the road against Hayden, as the Tigers swept the Bulldogs 25-23, 25-17 and 25-20.
Following a split between the younger teams — 2-0 wins for Hayden’s C-Team and MCHS’s junior varsity — the varsity squads dug in for a new season, seeking to improve upon the year before.
Moffat County ended the 2017 schedule 4-18 and Hayden 6-15, the two most recently meeting last September during tournament play in Rangely, a game that went to the Lady Bulldogs, 2-1.
The opening set provided the most even play between the two groups as Moffat County took the lead with a 10-5 advantage, only for the Tigers to overtake them after tying it at 11. MoCo evened it again at 15, though Hayden continued to stay just far enough ahead until a late rally put them neck and neck at 23, capped by an ace from MCHS freshman Taytum Smercina, prompting a timeout.
Hayden caught a break as they got the ball back and claimed the final point, but there was no mistaking the Tigers were more prepared as the second set began, a 6-1 start leading to a timeout by MCHS coach Jessica Profumo.
Profumo noted that some confusion was due to the rotation.
“We have so many talented girls that I have to mix it up a little bit, so I’ll take some of that second set on myself,” she said.
Starting with Hayden’s 14-6 advantage, the hosting team enjoyed an eight-point gap for most of the set that culminated in the 25-17 outcome.
Moffat County kept it closer in the third with a steady stream of highlights with aces from the line by Bailey Lawton and a mounting tally of kills at the net shared by Jenna Timmer, Jaidyn Steele and Hailee Herndon.
Still, decisive blocking by Hayden’s Joey Deckler helped give the Tigers the final victory.
“She is a force at the net,” said Hayden coach Lexi Cyphers. “She started for me last year, but this year she is even more of a presence on the court, especially as a leader. She had a really good game tonight, even though she was really nervous going into it.”
Cyphers and Profumo agreed that an unusual amount of long and short serves could be chalked up to first-game jitters on either side.
“They’ve definitely been serving better in practice than they were tonight,” Profumo said. “I think that just comes with the adrenaline, and that’ll iron itself out.”
Cyphers credited a group mentality shared by her athletes that helped get the W.
“The one thing they did the entire time was play as a team,” she said. “They showed tonight their heart was in the right place as well as their heads. They were very attentive to where they were, regardless of what was on the scoreboard.”
Profumo said she wants players to continue to stay confident despite setbacks as they keep building.
“They’re definitely fighting and playing faster-paced volleyball, and I’m pleased with what they’re doing,” she said. “Obviously at the end of the day, wins feel better than a loss does, but seeing how they played makes me happy.”
The opener was a warmup for both teams as they prepared to meet their regional rivals. Hayden will host Soroco Aug. 28, while MCHS travels Thursday to Steamboat Springs.