Moffat County volleyball hits hard to start season vs. Hayden | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County volleyball hits hard to start season vs. Hayden

A great start to the night Tuesday showed just how much promise Moffat County High School volleyball has this season, but the Lady Bulldogs took a turn from which they couldn’t quite recover in their first game.

MCHS girls took a 25-17 win at home over Hayden to start the fall, but the first set in a 3-1 evening was followed by a trio of defeats, some agonizingly close — 25-14, 26-24 and 25-23.

Coming directly after a 2-0 sweep by the Bulldog JV squad — 25-22, 25-13 — the varsity game couldn’t have begun much better for the Dogs, as punishing hits by Olivia Profumo and Abbe Adams and an ace by Hailee Herndon put them ahead 4-0 immediately. A seven-point run — going from 11-9 to 18-9 — only cemented the MoCo momentum.

The shaky beginning for the Tigers quickly flipped around by the second set as Hayden controlled the pace and was sending back nearly everything the Lady Dogs sent their way, culminating in a kill by Leah Carrouth that earned them their first victory with two more to come.

“That first one was rough, but the girls were really able to pull it together and add in some of that teamwork we’ve been working so hard on,” said Hayden coach Lexi Cyphers.

Moffat County fought at their hardest in the third round, the two Yampa Valley teams tying up the score again and again. It was the Bulldogs’ set to lose, but a faulty serve at a 24-23 game point relieved pressure for Hayden as they dug in for two more points to go past the 25 mark.

With a 21-19 Hayden lead in the fourth set, MoCo caught a bad break when Herndon came down hard on her ankle, helped off the court in tears.

“She came down on another girl’s foot, so that will be kind of a strain,” coach Jessica Profumo said.

While Herndon’s Bulldog teammates fought on nonetheless — Adams promptly claiming an almost vengeful kill on the next play — the Tigers finished just far enough ahead for the W.

“They showed signs of what they can do, and I think they just need to believe they can do that all the time,” Profumo said. “I keep telling them, just play your game.”

With Jenna Timmer already out for the season recovering from a summertime injury and Herndon uncertain for this week, an already small varsity bench could shrink even more.

For all the troubles the home team had, Bulldog statistics told a positive story, with Olivia Profumo leading in kills with 12 for the night. Adams had eight and Herndon four in a night in which nearly the entire roster added at least one K, including three by Cayden King.

“I’m really proud with how aggressive Cayden came out and played as a freshman against a team with big, talented girls,” coach Profumo said. “It’d be one thing if she was going against little shrimpy girls, but three of the four games, she up against their big girl.”

Though she didn’t look it during game time, King couldn’t deny she was a little anxious, especially since the varsity round was her first overall in high school, having not played the JV game.

Even so, she knows her strengths.

“I only play front row, and I love to block and hit, so that’s my main job,” she said.

Herndon had four aces for the night, setter Jacie Evenson covered the court quickly with 21 assists, and Adams had three solo blocks.

At libero, Kenzie Rehor took some lumps early in the game when Hayden hitters started targeting her, but the strategy only lasted so long.

Rehor said it only took one good reception to show her opposition what she had.

“After that one hit, I knew it was going to be easy, so I just kept working at it,” she said.

While MoCo hosts Steamboat Springs Thursday — starting at 4 p.m. with C-Team — and travels to Oak Creek Saturday for a Soroco tournament, they’ll see the Tigers again at Rangely’s tourney, Sept. 6 and 7.

Until then, Steamboat will be the focus, and though the rivalry game is always tough, players and coaches know where they need to adjust.

In Rehor’s opinion, it’s mostly mental.

“We just need to stop second-guessing ourselves,” she said. “We know how to play the sport, now we just need to play it.”