Moffat County volleyball ends season at regional tournament
BROOMFIELD — With its final games of the fall Saturday, Nov. 5, the Moffat County volleyball team had two things in common: physical weariness from some of the Bulldogs’ toughest competitions of the season and a sense of gratitude for being there in the first place.
The Bulldogs took back-to-back losses over the weekend at Broomfield’s Prospect Ridge Academy as part of the Class 3A Region 10 Tournament that would send one of three teams to the next stage of the state playoffs.
Seeded 27th, Moffat County had the biggest disadvantage by having to play the earliest round with the hosting Prospect Ridge Academy Miners and getting barely any break before a second game with the Liberty Common Eagles.
Though they were the lowest-ranked team in the regional tournament, the Dogs took Prospect Ridge by surprise in the opening set with strong play from seniors Lizzy LeWarne, Alexis Jones, junior Ruby Short and sophomore Mena Tucker. However, it was Cayden King who pounded the ball for five kills, including the final one that won the set 28-26 for Moffat County.
After spending most of the season last year recovering from an ACL injury, King was eager to make this one count.
“I was very excited, really wanted to win that one,” she said. “We played some of our best volleyball in that game. We were really fighting. I was really ready to play and so was the rest of the team.”
As the Bulldogs battled for the remaining sets, the score remained close only for Prospect Ridge to surge ahead in the closing minutes three times in a row, winning 25-22, 25-21 and 25-21.
The 3-1 defeat was discouraging but not devastating for Moffat, as the Bulldogs were still in the running to force a three-way tie. However, that hinged on the Bulldogs beating Liberty Common, which was fresh coming onto the court. With a 10-point run in the first set, the Eagles topped MoCo 25-11.
While Moffat players were able to add plentiful blocks against the Miners, Liberty’s hitting style and strength made the strategy yield sporadic results with sideouts.
“It’s all about the angle. If my girls’ angle is off and theirs is on, they can hit as hard as they want and it’ll go out every time,” Bulldogs coach Becca Sage said.
In the ensuing sets, Liberty also started targeting the back row and particularly libero Diana Arellano, though Sage was pleased with her constant effort.
“She had some great digs. Those are college-level swings, and D was picking up a lot of stuff and getting the serve-receive balls,” she said.
Moffat County fell 25-16 and 25-19 in the next two sets.
“That is a state team, and we put up 19 points against them, so I am very proud,” Sage said.
Liberty Common went on to sweep Prospect Ridge in three sets. Jones said she thinks the team would have stood a better chance against the Eagles if Moffat County had played them first.
“I’m surprised they were ranked lower,” she said. “Sometimes defeat starts to take over too early, and just bringing ourselves back up was important.”
The Bulldogs were also adapting to some last-minute roster changes as Sage shuffled some players around on the court.
“They adjusted really well to it, and that’s what I need now, especially for next year’s girls,” she said.
Jones and King both said they were pleased with making the regional round of the postseason, which has eluded the Bulldogs volleyball program for more than a decade.
“I’m glad we at least got to show up. It’s been a few years since the team has been here. It means a lot to all of us,” Jones said. “We’ve all worked hard our four years and now we finally get to see it pay off and get somewhere the other teams haven’t been able to get to.”
The team’s record ended at 11-10 for Moffat County’s first winning season since 2007, and the Bulldogs expect to keep it going in the coming years.
“This is the best season we’ve had in a long time, and we’ll just keep building,” Sage said.
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