Moffat County volleyball fights fiercely with Roaring Fork |

Moffat County volleyball fights fiercely with Roaring Fork

Coach: 3-2 Homecoming loss to Rams far better than Friday defeat to Delta

Moffat County High School's Mattie Jo Duzik puts a hit past Roaring Fork's Cindy Salinas Saturday during the Lady Bulldogs varsity volleyball game. MCHS lost to the Rams in five sets.
Andy Bockelman

If they couldn’t take a win during a day that was both for Homecoming bragging rights and a pink game for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Moffat County High SchoolMoffat County High School volleyball would at least make their Saturday opponents sweat it out as much as possible. volleyball would at least make their Saturday opponents sweat it out as much as possible.

Moffat County High School volleyball would at least make their Saturday opponents sweat it out as much as possible.

The Lady Bulldogs had their closest home game to date this season, with a 3-2 loss to the Roaring Fork Rams, an event that took Moffat County girls to the brink in their play on a most emotional day.

As part of the pink game, girls wore specialty pink ribbon socks provided by The Memorial Hospital and performed a ceremony before the varsity game for those battling with all different kinds of cancer past and present, players providing family and friends who were survivors in the stands with a pink carnation.

As they took to the court to do their own battle, Lady Bulldogs still had the previous day hanging over their heads, losing Friday to the 3A Western Slope League’s top team, Delta, in three uncomfortably quick sets, 25-13, 25-6 and 25-18.

MCHS head coach Erin Knez admitted she was a little concerned the Homecoming happenings of the week and the defeat by the Panthers would be a distraction against the Rams.

“Honestly it’s such a hard week to win,” she said. “They were pumped up, but they weren’t mentally in the game, since there’s so much other stuff on their minds.”

In contrast from Friday, Lady Dogs were right in step with Roaring Fork from the first set, the Rams never leading by more than four points with power moves aplenty by Moffat County’s Mattie Jo Duzik, Emma Samuelson and Tiffany Hildebrandt.

The Rams took the 26-24 win thanks to a kill by Lyndsay Hansen.

The Carbondale crew must have been shaken, because the second set provided ample scoring to Moffat County largely on serves straight into the net and spikes that were well past the back line, Bulldogs winning, 25-19, their first set this season to be won in front of a home crowd.

If those on the court were fighting, the bleachers were at war with a sizable collection of Rams fans engaged in a chant-off with the Craig spectators at every timeout and set interlude. And, despite Roaring Fork jumping ahead by four points to start the third set, the Lady Dogs dominated to make it 2-1 with Duzik on fire at the net and the entire team digging deep to get to 24-16, just waiting for a Ram error to give them their last point, finishing it at 25-18.

Though ready and raring to go in what they hoped was the final set, Moffat County girls suddenly lost their cohesion in the fourth round, and Roaring Fork wasted no time running up the score, their lead growing out of control to as much as 20-6 before the Bulldogs started to make headway, MCHS falling, 25-14.

The fifth set started no better, Roaring Fork jumping to a 6-0 advantage before Knez called a timeout to strategize. The score went to 12-2, both Bulldog points coming from kills by Duzik. Slowly but surely, starting with a kill by Bailey Lawton, Moffat County made its way forward, but with no room for error at 14-11, a slam by the Rams’ Cindy Salinas was the final nail in the coffin.

It may have been a loss, but it was an enormous bump up over the previous day, Knez said.

“A few shanked passes, a few missed hits in that fifth set took our edge away just enough that we couldn’t quite close the deal,” she said. “A win is always the goal, but just playing our game, good defense and staying intense for as many sets as we have to go, I think we did that. It was good for them to show up and represent Moffat County the way they should.”

Compared to the four-set win they had when they hosted Moffat County, Roaring Fork was on its toes the entire time, said Rams coach Donna Bratcher.

“They really, really want me to lose my hair before I’m 35,” she laughed. “They’ve improved greatly from last time we played them, I was impressed with the level from Moffat.”

The Rams improve to 11-6 overall and 6-3 WSL, next meeting Gunnison Tuesday.

“Right now we’re on the rise, and we’re going to continue,” Bratcher said.

MCHS goes to 5-14, 2-9 and hosts Steamboat Springs Monday in a non-league game rescheduled from September. The Sailors will come to Craig with a chip on their shoulder thanks to a Saturday sweep by Palisade that puts them at 7-11.

Should her athletes stay in the Saturday mindset, a win against their rivals is entirely possible, Knez said.

“I’m so glad to bounce back after Friday’s game and show our crowd we can hang with these teams, and we can beat these teams,” she said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.

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