Moffat County volleyball can’t finish upset bid of Steamboat on Senior Night | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County volleyball can’t finish upset bid of Steamboat on Senior Night

Ben Ingersoll

Moffat County High School senior Alex Samuelson readies her defense as Steamboat Springs' Annie Osbourn puts up a set in the Lady Bulldogs' 3-1 loss Thursday night at MCHS. Moffat County will travel to Parachute this weekend to meet Grand Valley High School.

The Moffat County High School volleyball team almost looked stunned after one set Thursday night as the Lady Bulldogs hosted a powerful Steamboat Springs squad.

Moffat County, winners of just 11 sets in 2014 heading into the evening, used a come-from-behind effort to shock the visiting Sailors in a 25-22 opening-set win.

There was plenty of excitement, especially from the Lady Bulldogs' four seniors Alex Samuelson, Lauren Samuelson, Tiawna Smercina and Britney Rothermund, playing their final home contest of their careers. But there was an element of disbelief, essentially a "Did we really just do that?" moment.

But there is a reason Steamboat once was ranked in the state's top 10 and is racking up more wins than it has seen in seven years. The Sailors weathered the Lady Bulldogs' early onslaught, taking the next three sets, 25-17, 25-16 and 25-13, en route to a 3-1 win.

"This is, honestly, the first time I've seen my girls so determined, focused and ready to play," second-year Moffat County coach Starla Jensen said. "Tonight it was more mental for them. I've seen them play well, and I've seen them flatline, where they can't get out of a hole."

Although the Lady Bulldogs couldn't muster the opening set magic in the remaining three, there were flashes of just how ready Moffat County came to play.

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In the second set, Moffat County dug itself into an early hole with untimely errors, but it roared back to tie things up at 10-all. The Lady Bulldogs even managed to get within four points later that same set, but Steamboat wouldn't be denied, winning 25-17.

The third and fourth sets didn't fare as well for Moffat County, again finding itself in deep, deep holes in the 25-16 and 25-13 losses.

But through it all — Moffat County's 12th loss on the season — Jensen was proud of how her somewhat inexperienced squad rallied back against a formidable opponent.

Her group may be just cracking its potential of what it takes to grab leads, hold on and bury opponents, she said.

"We got down and had to figure out how to come back," Jensen said. "They're just learning how to do that."

Jensen also praised the play of her four seniors, whom she began coaching when they were trying to rebuild the program as juniors. The wins may have not have piled up how the Lady Bulldogs would have liked, Jensen said, but the hope is there, as evident by the four-set match with Steamboat.

"My seniors are huge," Jensen said. "They're no doubt the leaders."

Moffat County rounds out its schedule on the road, beginning Saturday at Grand Valley in Parachute then at Basalt on Monday.