Moffat County volleyball gains long haul win over Longhorns
Apart from being in the same conference, Moffat County High School volleyball had no beef with the Basalt Longhorns, but that didn’t stop the Lady Bulldogs from overtaking the visitors in their first glimpse of the 3A Western Slope League.
An early season that has already seen its share of close matches went to the brink Tuesday as MCHS earned a 3-2 win against Basalt, capped off by a tense 15-13 final round where athletes on both ends of the court kept their concentration laser-like and their volleys lengthy.
Moffat started the night with a 25-14 set that began with an 8-3 lead before Basalt coach David Chadbourne called a timeout. The Bulldogs slowed their dominance from there but didn’t exactly stop with the opening W.
However, once teams switched sides, Basalt was able to keep it neck and neck in the second set, keeping it tied up at 11 junctures before finishing it 25-23.
Bulldogs took some time to respond in the third, but went on an eight-point run that put them ahead 15-7 before the stubborn Longhorns caught up slowly but surely at the 20-18 mark as coach Jessica Profumo called her players to the sideline to strategize.
The middle might have gone either way as the Longhorns set up at the line trailing at 24-23, but a bad serve gave it to the home team. It was in the fourth that Basalt caught a spark, getting Moffat County frazzled late in the set to claim the last seven straight points for the 25-16 victory.
Taking it to the fifth set — the second time already this year for MCHS — showed either side’s determination as the momentum shifted back and forth. The Dogs reached game point at 14-11 as Jenna Timmer claimed her ninth kill of the night, only for Basalt to catch a break with a faulty MoCo serve and a successful tip by Longhorn Gabby Narby to make it 14-13.
The frenzied volley that followed finally ended with a backward bump by Moffat County’s Jaidyn Steele that the Longhorns couldn’t get back in motion. The hit in question wasn’t one of her prettiest, though Steele noted that her teammates’ spikes continue to grow more deadly.
“Our hits are getting so much better than they have been in a long time,” Steele said. “We’re better all-around lately.”
Across the five sets, the team had 33 kills for the night, nine each for Timmer and Tiffany Hildebrandt. With the team’s 17 total aces for the night, Steele, Stephenie Swindler and Taytum Smercina led with four apiece at the line.
Timmer also proved a dominating force elsewhere with eight total blocks, seven solo. At setter, Ebawnee Smercina racked up 26 assists.
“I hope that we don’t have to go to five every home game,” Profumo laughed. “They’ve definitely proved they can go that far and go all the way to the end. It makes me proud, but it makes me tired.”
She noted that she is still working out the best chemistry in the roster, though she emphasized to athletes that the win belonged to them all.
“Even if you’re not on the floor for the final point, that’s not what it’s all about,” she said. “It’s about work really hard all together.”
Moffat County improves to 4-4 overall, while Longhorns are 2-3. The two teams will meet again Oct. 6 in Basalt.
MCHS volleyball will be back in the home gym Thursday, hosting Coal Ridge with games beginning at 4 p.m.