Moffat County volleyball ready to hit hard in regional playoff round |

Moffat County volleyball ready to hit hard in regional playoff round

Moffat County volleyball coach Becca Sage, front, is shown with the team's senior players including, from left, Makaela Simpson, Cayden King, Audri Connolly, Diana Arellano, Alexis Herndon, Lizzy LeWarne and Alexis Jones. The Bulldogs will compete in the regional playoffs Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, against Prospect Ridge Academy.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

It’s been a playoff drought of more than a decade-and-a-half for Moffat County volleyball, and the Bulldogs are eager to bump up their play as the players rise to a new level for them.

The regional rounds of the Class 3A CHSAA State Championships are coming up soon, and MCHS is among the 36 teams that will face off this weekend.

At 11-8, MoCo achieved the best record the team has seen since 2007, a season that finished 17-5 when the school was still at the Class 4A level.

The Bulldogs ended the fall placing fifth in the Class 3A Western Slope League and are one of four teams in the conference — including Delta, Roaring Fork and Rifle — to move on to regionals. MCHS is seeded 27th and will head to Broomfield’s Prospect Ridge Academy, ranked 10th.

The Bulldogs will play the Miners (17-7) Saturday morning, Nov. 5, and win or lose, they will immediately play again against Fort Collins’ Liberty Common (12-9), which is seeded 15th. The top team will go on to the next round.

As the girls were preparing for this weekend, MoCo coach Becca Sage said she has full confidence her team can compete against the two Front Range squads.

“I’m going to put my best six out there, and I have no doubt that they can do it, I really don’t,” she said. “They can get out there and beat these two teams and make it to state.”

Statistically speaking, the Bulldogs finished high in the league in blocks and aces, particularly. Lizzy LeWarne ranks second in the league with 91 blocks, while fellow senior Makaela Simpson is third in aces with 34.

LeWarne’s proficiency also puts her fourth in the 3A division in blocks, and she’s spent the season analyzing how to shut down other squads.

“Usually teams that are more powerful hitters are easier to block because they’re so close to the net,” she said.

With the team’s highest hitting percentage and 119 kills, LeWarne credited teammate Alexis Jones for many of those assists. Junior Ruby Short leads the team in kills with 133.

“Alexis is a great setter, and she makes it possible for me to get those kills,” LeWarne said. “She sets me up as fast as I’m able.”

Sage said she takes pride in the team reaching its preseason goal of making playoffs, while also maintaining strong group morale.

“As a second-year coach here and my fourth year of coaching in general, this has been the most exciting team to coach,” Sage said. “It’s incredible to be part of this and having so many seniors knowing we made it to the playoffs.”

As one of those seniors, LeWarne said all the members of the Class of 2023 are playing their best game lately.

“Our team has come a long way in the last couple years; our class has grown a lot since we were freshmen. I’m so glad to be in the playoffs with them,” she said.

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