Moffat County volleyball digs deep during Rangely tourney
A pair of wins and a pair of losses tested the longevity of Moffat County High School varsity volleyball this weekend, keeping the Lady Bulldogs prepped for more intense action as they move into the next stage of the season.
Friday saw MCHS fall to Rangely and defeat Telluride, followed by Saturday sets against Lotus School for Excellence and Hayden, a swift victory and a close loss, respectively.
The opening round against the Panthers was an issue of focus for the MoCo girls, said coach Jessica Profumo, as Rangely downed the Dogs 25-15 and 25-13.
However, the blue bunch bounced back immediately afterward, outlasting Telluride in 25-13 and 25-23 games. The loss was notably the only one of the weekend for the Miners, who topped Rangely, Lotus and Hotchkiss during the tourney.
Tiffany Hildebrandt collected eight kills across the Friday games, with Jenna Timmer slamming seven to the floor and Hailee Herndon four.
The Saturday morning bout with Lotus may stand as MCHS’s quickest victory this year with barely a half-hour elapsed into the win. The Meteors — 1-15 during the 2017 season — struggled to keep up with the Bulldogs, and the difference in play level was apparent in the scores: 25-8 and 25-9.
Moffat put together 16 kills — led by Jaidyn Steele with seven — and 13 aces, with Hildebrandt and Stephenie Swindler each sending four serves to Lotus’s side of the court that didn’t return.
Steele also put up three blocks, while setters Ebawnee Smercina, Faith Morgan and Bailey Lawton combined for 14 assists.
MCHS hardly had time to catch their breath before they were back on the floor for a rematch against Hayden, looking to avenge the 3-0 sweep by the Tigers that started their season.
The bad news: the W didn’t come. The good news: Hayden had to sweat for it.
The Tigers controlled the pace of the first set, pushing past a tie at 13 to finish the round 25-16.
The Dogs were able to adapt in a second set that they led for the majority, with a five-point run getting them the 16-11 advantage, though for the most part Hayden trailed by only one or two points.
With the score at 23-18, triumph looked imminent, only for Tigers to take advantage of the MoCo excitement and bring it to 23-22.
A faulty Tiger serve sent it to game point, yet it was a quick-thinking move by Lawton that finally closed it at 25-23 as she gave the ball a Superman-style punch over the net to Hayden’s back row, a move not unlike her play that won the Dogs their 3-2 meeting with West Grand.
“I saw it open up and took my chance,” Lawton laughed. “They leave a lot of spots open, especially their corners. That’s one of their big weaknesses.”
The tie-breaking set started well, and a quick succession of a kill and a block by Herndon put Hayden on alert with a meager lead of 9-8. Yet, the Tigers kept their heads long enough to win it 15-10.
The stats were still favorable for MCHS with 24 kills, including six by Lawton, five for Olivia Profumo and four each for Hildebrandt and Herndon.
A lengthy run with the last of four matches affected the results, Jessica Profumo said, as did some trepidation against a team that had already topped them.
“I think they may not have had the confidence to finish it out, but we’ll get there,” she said. “We definitely cleaned up our aspect of the game knowing some of the things (Hayden) do and don’t do.”
The 2-2 weekend was more or less positive, the coach added, for the sake of instilling players with the need for speed in the two-out-of-three format. She hopes to bring a similar tournament to Craig in the future.
“We’ll let other teams deal with the traveling,” she said.
Moffat County meets its first 3A Western Slope League opponents in the coming week, both at home, hosting Basalt Tuesday and Coal Ridge Thursday.