Moffat County volleyball serving up new expectations
There’s a certain way the young women of the Moffat County High School volleyball program like their gym: loud. It’s how they prepare and how they hope the crowd will stay as they embark on a new season.
The Lady Bulldogs plan to make some noise this year within the 3A Western Slope League, planning to carry on the ear-splitting nature of their practices, which regularly feature a boom box going at full blast.
But, there is a method to the madness, said assistant coach Erin Knez. The ruckus helps players learn to tune out distractions on the court and focus on supporting their sisters in blue.
“They have to communicate to each other, and they have to shout to hear each other over the music,” Knez said.
Charli Earle and Morgan Lawton serve as team captains, two of six seniors — also including Maddy Olinger, Hannah Walker and Bailey Kurz — some of whom started regularly others not — in Leah Camilletti’s case, coming back to the sport after a year’s hiatus.
“We’ve got a whole new rotation this year,” Lawton said.
Mixing in all different levels of talent and finding the right person for the right role is challenging.
“We want to offer the younger girls constructive criticism without being too much like, well, seniors,” Lawton laughed.
Thus far has primarily been tournament play, which won’t affect the season record much, though they’ve gotten a look at their league opponents, like Olathe and Basalt.
It may be too early to say who will be the biggest WSL contenders, but Coal Ridge and Grand Valley will likely be threats.
“I think everybody is just like us, still adjusting from losing (last year’s) seniors,” Walker said.
With quite a few years competing together, the seniors know they’re at their best when they have a lot of energy and can feed off a crowd’s enthusiasm.
“We like being upbeat, it helps everybody,” Olinger said.
For third-year head coach Starla Jensen, seeing the girls she first coached as sophomores — or juniors like Mattie Jo Duzik and Emma Samuelson, who were then freshmen — rise through the ranks has been impressive.
“It has been exciting to watch them,” she said. “Their volleyball vocabulary keeps getting bigger, and it’s great to see every year.”
Jensen said she has thrown a lot of different methods at her athletes this year, moving from a 6-2 rotation to a 5-1 and trying other new tactics.
“Everything changed for them this year, but they’ve adjusted and done really well,” she said. “I think they’re motivated, they strive for excellence every day, and they want to be there. They want to be a team.”
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