Moffat County volleyball rallies to 1st victory of season against Rangely |

Moffat County volleyball rallies to 1st victory of season against Rangely

After two 3-0 losses to start the volleyball season, spectators may have thought Moffat County was headed in the same direction Tuesday night at Moffat County High School, as Rangely threatened yet another sweep.

But, with the coach’s motivation, an increasingly loud bunch of fans and trust in each other, MCHS got its first victory of the season in five sets against Rangely.

Neither team dominated the first set, though the Panthers kept a slight lead for most of it and won 25-21. The Panthers forced a number of mistakes by the Bulldogs and were benefiting from pulling punches at the net.

“They were killing us on tips and weren’t hitting at us very much,” said MoCo head coach Becca Sage. “We changed our defense a little bit and pushed everybody up toward the net. They didn’t let anything drop after that.”

In the second set, Rangely was up 16-9 by the time Sage called a timeout, but the momentum remained on the Panthers’ side as they cruised to a 25-15 win. At that point, the Bulldogs knew it was Rangely’s game to lose.

“I told (the Bulldogs) that if they wanted to win this game, they needed to take it and take it fast,” Sage said. “I let them know (Rangely) was a very beatable team, but we were just beating ourselves, and we needed to pick it up and turn it around. They certainly did.”

The third set began with a 4-0 advantage for the Bulldogs as the Panthers started missing the mark on their hits. Once teams went back to their benches for a break, MCHS was feeling confident with a 13-6 lead. The positivity only grew with their biggest lead of the night at 21-9.

Rangely found its footing again with a seven-point run, but the Bulldogs stayed steady as a kill by junior Alexis Herndon got them to 23-19 and senior Diana Arellano served up two aces for the 25-19 finale.

“We were tired of losing,” Moffat County senior Lizzy LeWarne said. “We knew we had to win that third set, and that’s what we did. We had the momentum and used it. You could definitely tell the energy switched for us.”

A hotly debated line call early in the fourth set went to Moffat County and served as a catalyst to keep the Bulldogs motivated. With senior setter Alexis Jones readying her hitters — primarily LeWarne and senior Makeala Simpson, junior Ruby Short and sophomore Caitlyn Adams — the Panthers started adapting to their rhythm and claimed some crucial blocks.

However, a faulty Rangely serve allowed the Dogs to go to game point, and a side out went against the Panthers to give MoCo the 25-21 win.

The tiebreaker round was one in which the team was glad to have a vocal student section in their corner.

“The student section is big for us,” LeWarne said. “When they’re cheering, it makes us a lot more energetic and makes it a lot more fun.”

In the fifth set, Rangely still had some fight left in them and looked like they might just take the victory with a 10-3 lead after some big hits and Moffat miscues.

MoCo Junior Kyra Wilson racked up multiple aces as the Bulldogs slowly caught up. Wilson said she felt the fifth set may have been the team’s best.

“We totally connected on that one,” she said. “It’s tons of pressure, but I know my team is there, so I can count on them. Being back there and knowing I have the talent helps me. We all pitch in even though we’re tired. We all want it.”

An ace from Adams tied the score at 13, while LeWarne got it to match point with a tricky move at the net that looked like a wind-up for a spike before she sent it straight downward to avoid the Panther block.

Rangely couldn’t get the ball back in motion after the final serve of the evening, and the Bulldogs student section stormed the court to celebrate.

“I’m thrilled to win like that and finally get on a roll,” LeWarne said.

Wilson agreed that the victory only makes them want more.

“I think this is going to be a long streak of wins for us,” she said. “We’ve got it in us.”

MCHS will host Caprock Academy on Thursday night and compete in tournament play Saturday in Oak Creek.

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