Moffat County volleyball splits Saturday doubleheader, sends off seniors, salutes survivors
It was one of the longest days Moffat County High School volleyball players have experienced this season, but by the end of Saturday, the effort was worth it all.
MCHS athletes put all their hearts into their final home games of the fall, hosting both the Roaring Fork Rams and the Grand Valley Cardinals with games that had special guests of honor.
The morning sessions served as the program’s pink game, with players at all levels donning the color in their socks and hair ribbons — as well as varsity’s hot pink t-shirts — in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Those who have experienced all types of cancer were honored with a poster at the gym’s entrance as the Bulldogs faced the Rams.
MoCo girls were more than ready for Roaring Fork, downing them at every level as Bulldog C-Team and junior varsity won both sets: C-Team two rounds of 25-22 and JV 25-23 and 25-14.
As varsity hit the floor, players were determined to flip the outcome of their last meeting with the Rams, who took the win in five sets at the beginning of October when the Dogs visited Carbondale.
Saturday’s game meant more, both because of the fact that it counted as a match for 3A Western Slope League credit and the need for athletes to prove themselves, said coach Jessica Profumo.
“I didn’t really consider it playing for revenge just playing like we should have last time,” she said.
The game plan may not have been to replicate the last face-off between the two teams, but fate dictated it that way nonetheless.
Whereas MCHS won the first set when the Rams hosted, Roaring Fork took the opening round 25-16 Saturday, only for MoCo to respond with 25-20 and 25-23 W’s in the second and third.
The Bulldogs had a chance to close it in four sets at 24-21, but the Rams’ match point mentality was where it needed to be, pushing the score well beyond 25 until they finally claimed it at 29-27.
Team captain Kenzie Rehor opted for the first serve after the coin toss for the fifth set, and though the Rams racked up three points right away, the Dogs adjusted just as quickly with a six-point run to overtake their opponents and hold the lead from there, finishing 15-11.
“I told them this not going to be déjà vu,” coach Profumo said. “They are going to fight for every last point, so you might get ahead, but you can never take a break and relax. You have to play until the final point and then worry about going and eating your lunch.”
With 37 kills spread across the home team roster, no one was hitting harder than Abbe Adams, who slammed the ball to the floor 16 times.
“I just think we always need to try our hardest in situations like that, and that’s what we did because we wanted it so badly,” Adams said. “We’ve got to leave it all out on the court.”
Cayden King earned eight kills and eight total blocks in the 3-2 win, Hailee Herndon had six K’s, and Olivia Profumo led in aces with three of the Dogs’ 12 unreturned serves.
Setter Jacie Evenson had 33 assists and Rehor 25 receptions at libero, both with no errors.
As Bulldogs were finishing off the Rams, Grand Valley players began shuffling into the gym for the second half of the day, with games between the Cardinals and MoCo’s younger crews starting immediately.
In a reversal of fortune, C-Team was swept by the Cards with dual scores of 25-22, while JV took a first set win at 25-17 only to fall 26-24 in the second, losing the tiebreaker 15-13.
C-Team coach Anita Cooper said her group was understandably lethargic in second half of the day, though she is still amazed at their progress this fall.
Besides some freshmen changing positions compared to middle school, Cooper said the youngest players have kept adapting.
“We’ve been challenged not having enough girls, but they’ve done so well with all they’ve had to go through,” she said. “From the moment they’ve step foot in open gym, they’re almost unrecognizable, they’re so much better and their skills have improved so much. I’m excited for next season.”
Trinity Farquharson said she was feeling the lack of energy in the Grand Valley game, though the match against the Rams was a display of how much she and teammates have improved, mentally more than anything.
“At the beginning of the year, I would struggle because I would keep my mistakes, but coach Cooper helped me realize you’ve just got to let it go,” she said. “I just want to get better and know I’m being the best I can.”
With some young players suiting up for all three teams, JV has seen both C-Team athletes playing up as well as those who sit on the varsity bench getting an abundance of floor time, coached by Shay Steffan.
“It’s been an awesome season. We had a great start and then a little slump, but we’ve ended well too,” Steffan said.
Lizzy LeWarne, who celebrated her birthday Saturday, has primarily played JV while being called up for varsity.
“All the coaches really make it fun,” she said. “I’m hoping to get more blocks and points next year.”
The final match of the day was preceded by Senior Night festivities as Rehor, Herndon, Eliana Mack and Faith Morgan were joined on the court by family members for their last game ever in the Doghouse.
The four seniors also joined together to perform the national anthem before hitting the floor against Grand Valley.
It may have been an excess of emotion, a lack of energy after an exhaustive day, or just a different type of team they were facing, but Moffat County players had far more difficulty against the Cardinals, who easily took the opening set 25-17.
Despite that early adversity, MoCo girls were in control for most of the second set with the Cards, with a 10-point streak the highlight as Adams claimed three aces at the line and Mack and Olivia Profumo pounding home the ball repeatedly.
“You could see Abbe was playing that mental game really well with that run,” coach Profumo said.
Still, Grand Valley came back from the 17-8 deficit little by little, holding on to a 26-24 win, showing why the Cardinals were the only team in the conference to beat Coal Ridge, who in turn handed Cedaredge their only loss of their year as the Titans rose to the top of the WSL standings this weekend.
Try as they might, a depleted Bulldog squad couldn’t push the match into a fourth set, falling 25-20 in the third despite Herndon, Mack, King and Taytum Smercina being forever on the attack at the net.
“I think they were in the right mindset and they were enjoying it,” coach Profumo said. “The main thing I told them was don’t be focused on the past or the future that you’re not just playing and enjoying the moment.”
With 18 kills for the final home game, King took six and Smercina four, while Adams, Mack and Evenson were combining for six total blocks.
With the win over Roaring Fork, MCHS volleyball reached its best season record since 2009, standing at 9-13 overall and 3-6 in the league, ranking seventh.
Moffat County volleyball will round out the season Monday at Soroco in Oak Creek.
With four years as part of the varsity lineup, the Saturday games hit Herndon hard, though it’s something she wouldn’t trade for anything.
“We have done so well this year. All the girls are great, we all get along and there’s no conflict. It’s been our best season ever,” she said.
As one of the senior leaders, Herndon said her advice to younger athletes is to “keep playing their hearts out.”
“I know they’ll do great. We’re already great, and if they keep working hard, I know they can do it,” she said.